Ultrasound imaging continues to gain popularity and is quickly becoming the imaging modality of choice for a variety of clinicians, ranging from Emergency Medicine, Critical Care, Radiology Labs, Vascular Labs, Ambulatory Care Centers, and more. Ultrasound is a cost-effective, real-time, and patient-friendly imaging alternative that can be done practically anywhere. These attributes have helped fuel ultrasound’s popularity across many medical fields and specialties. With ultrasound gaining popularity, it has raised questions about the many transducer types and offerings accompanying ultrasound machines.
What Do Ultrasound Transducers Do?
Ultrasound transducers are used to image various body parts. To use an ultrasound machine, you need to have a transducer that connects to the ultrasound machine. Once the transducer is connected to the ultrasound machine, the transducer is placed on the patient, and the clinician can visualize images of the patient’s anatomy.
Transducers connect to the ultrasound via ports. Transducer ports are traditionally found at the bottom of the ultrasound machine if the system is cart-based. For laptop-based systems, the transducer ports are located on the right and left sides of the laptop. For tablet-based ultrasound machines, the transducer ports are typically found behind the tablet user interface.
What Is an Ultrasound Transducer Made Of?
Transducers are made of a plastic or metal housing, protecting the internal electrical components.
How Do Ultrasound Transducers Work?
Ultrasound transducers transform electrical energy into mechanical energy. The electrical signal from the ultrasound machine is transformed via piezoelectrical crystals inside the transducer into a mechanical sound wave. These waves permeate the body, reflect off of internal structures, and return to the transducer. There the process is reversed, and the transducer changes the returning sound waves into electrical signals, which are then interpreted and displayed as images on the ultrasound screen. Additionally, materials are added to the housing (known as backing) and matching layers.
What Types of Transducers Are Used in Ultrasound?
There are three main types of transducers – convex/curvilinear, linear, and phased/sector transducers. In addition, there are many specialty transducers, such as endocavity, transesophageal, volume, and continuous wave (CW)/pencil transducers. Different types of transducers are used for different ultrasound exams and are ideally suited to image different structures.
Main Types of Transducers
Convex/Curvilinear Ultrasound Transducers
A convex transducer is a curved transducer. The shape of a convex transducer determines the sector width and shape of the image. A convex transducer offers a wider field of view for larger or deeper structures. Convex transducers are most frequently used for abdomen, obstetrics/gynecology (OB/GYN), urology, and some musculoskeletal (MSK) applications.