Lincoln County Hospital’s Dr Nick Dudley shares his five top tips for ultrasound probe care. These tips can help to prolong the life of your ultrasound probe by reducing wear and tear and the risk of damage.

1) General care. Even a gentle impact on some probe models can damage the array. Take great care not to knock or drop the probe. When transporting the probe ensure that the head and connector are protected from impact against each other and the hard surfaces of any container. Never allow the probe head to hang loose by the cable. Use only cleaning products approved by the probe manufacturer. Inspect your probe regularly, following BMUS QA guidelines.

2) Lens care: The lens is a delicate structure, important to beam formation, so damage or wear can affect performance. Use only soft, non-abrasive, manufacturer approved wipes, never dry paper towels. Never rub the lens, but wipe carefully.

3) Cable care: The cable is also a vulnerable component, containing over 100 fine wires. Do not stress, bend or pull the cable. When stowing probes ensure cables are not under any stress. Keep cables off the floor and away from wheels; use the cable supports available on most scanners. Clean the cable with the same care as the lens; do not apply friction or pull the cable.

4) Case care: The case may be the strongest part of the probe but joints, particularly of concentric parts, e.g. domes or caps on 3D probes, may be vulnerable. When cleaning do not apply stress to joints, in particular avoid applying twisting motions to domes/caps. Any cracks or opening in the probe case provide a vector for cross-contamination and pose an electrical hazard, so testing and risk assessment are required.

5) Disinfection devices: Follow the instructions of the disinfection device manufacturer and the probe manufacturer. Follow the care instructions already outlined. Handle the probe, connector and cable with great care. Position the probe correctly and carefully. Close the device door/lid gently. Do not stress the cable on removal. NEVER put a repaired probe into a disinfection device without written assurance that the repair was to factory standards and that manufacturer’s approval for the disinfection device remains valid.

Reference: Dudley N, Russell S, Ward B and Hoskins P; BMUS QA Working Party. BMUS guidelines for the regular quality assurance testing of ultrasound scanners by sonographers. Ultrasound 22, 8-14, 2014