In the fourth and final part of this series, we will discuss the importance of manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines, and whether these will have a tangible effect on the longevity and quality of your probe’s imaging capabilities. If you have not read the previous instalment on alcohol damage, you can find that here.
So, in regard to cleaning and disinfecting your probes, do the manufacturer’s guidelines really matter?
In short, yes. ProbeLogic always recommends you follow the manufacturer’s guidelines first and foremost. While it is imperative you clean your probes before any level of disinfection or sterilisation, exposure to incorrect products and processes can cause more harm than good. These guidelines set out by the manufacturer of your probe are specifically designed to extend the lifespan of your equipment while maintaining the highest standard of quality for the longest time possible, and while guidelines don’t dictate exactly how your probe should be handled, they often give valuable and comprehensive recommendations.
But what happens if you don’t follow the cleaning guidelines? Is it really that bad?
Ignoring the guidelines specifically set out for transducer care and handling can result in the implementation of cleaning and care procedures that directly result in a risk to your probes, imaging capabilities, and even your patients. It also voids warranties provided by manufacturers. Disregarding these guidelines is almost always going to result in damage, especially if the transducer is exposed to this behaviour repeatedly. For example, most manufacturer’s guidelines will recommend that you only use specific solutions on your probe, warning you to avoid certain others. But why does this matter? As previously discussed in instalment 3, repeatedly using chemicals or solutions that are not approved of, especially alcohol-based ones, can have severe and long-lasting effects on your probes, and in some cases, the damage is irreparable.
How will this affect your imaging?
Not following the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines poses risks not only to your transducer itself, but also the quality of it’s imaging. Superficial damage to your probe’s casing can lead to very real complications such as delamination (separation of the lens material away from the acoustic array), corrosion (oxidisation of the copper and other metals inside the transducer) and fluid ingress (damage to the casing or seals, such that water or other liquids have entered the inside of the transducer) – all of which can be detrimental to imaging. For example, if a probe is left in cleaning solution too long, it can soften the case which in turn reduces the probe’s durability. If the probe is then knocked or dropped, the delicate electronics inside are more susceptible to damage. Delamination may show up as areas of dropout in your image, whereas corrosion and fluid ingress may be evident as a number of different faults from static noise, to dead elements (or black lines) and possibly artefacts in your imaging.
Following the manufacturer’s cleaning guidelines is the best way to mitigate against damage caused by improper cleaning methods and solutions. In summary, yes, the guidelines will have a tangible effect on the quality and longevity of your probe and it’s imaging capabilities, so we recommend you follow them at all times.