This is the most important part of the machine. The ultrasound linear probe is responsible for sending and receiving the sound waves that create the image. It does this through the piezoelectric effect, a phenomenon that causes quartz crystals within the probe to vibrate rapidly and send out sound waves. This is done by using an application of an electrical current. These waves then bounce off objects and are reflected to the probe. After the probe sends out the waves, the front-end processor combines and amplifies them. This signal is then sent to the CPU.
Central Processing Unit (CPU)
The CPU is the brain of the ultrasound machine: it tells the probe what to do and how to do it. It also processes and interprets the probe’s electrical signals, using a complex formula to convert them into an image. It then sends that image to the monitor for the doctor or ultrasound technician to examine.
Tranducer Pulse Controls
Changes the amplitude, frequency and duration of the pulses emitted from the transducer probe.
The display on the machine is like any other computer monitor. It takes the data that the CPU analyzed and interpreted and shows the resulting image of the scanned area. The doctor will then further analyze the image to diagnose the patient if they see anything out of the ordinary. The display also helps the sonographer ensure they’re scanning the right area of the body.
Keyboard with Control Knobs
The keyboard’s function is to enter information and data into the computer. This is usually patient information such as their name, height and weight, and why they’re there. It’s important to record that information so that the results don’t go to the wrong patient—this could lead to a misdiagnosis and cause the patient to receive medication and treatments they don’t need. The control knobs help the tech adjust the image on the screen to make it crisp.
The printer allows the technician to make a hard copy of the ultrasound image. A doctor or tech can use the hard copy for closer examination, but most often, they give the image to excited parents so that they can have a picture of their baby. The doctor can add any additional images to the patient’s file for use at a later date.