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How to clean and take care of an ultrasound machine?

As with all medical equipment, ultrasound machines need regular maintenance and cleaning, even when they are not used frequently. Some practices may use their units twenty or more times per day, while other practices might only fire them up few times a week. No matter if your machine is powered on or off, there's wear and tear and maintenance that needs to be done in order to make sure that ultrasound images are of the very highest quality.

Cleaning and Disposal

The first thing you need to do is to read the manual. Certain manufacturers have very specific cleaning protocols for users to follow and certain issues may arise where the unit can't be decontaminated at all, and must be disposed of as biohazardous waste. If the inside of the unit is exposed to bodily fluids carrying transmissible pathogens, the unit must be removed from service immediately. There is no way to decontaminate the inside of the device, nor should any attempt be made.

A unit that is not cleaned after each use can result in the spread of staph infections, as well as other pathogens. There are different levels of cleaning required, based on the way the machine's transducer contacts the patient's body.

  • Low Level Disinfection: Will remove most bacteria, some fungi, some viruses, but not all of them. May not affect resistant microorganisms such as mycobacteria. Uses substances like Quaternary Ammonia Compounds, sodium hypochlorite solution, phenols, thymol, or accelerated hydrogen peroxide. Strict attention should be paid to dwell times.
  • High Level Disinfection: Will wipe out most active microorganisms across a broad spectrum. May not affect large numbers of bacterial spores or prions. High level disinfectants include ortho-phthalaldehyde and other aldehydes, peracetic acid, and high concentration hydrogen peroxide. Mandated as a minimum for such uses as transvaginal or transabdominal ultrasounds
  • Sterilization: This means the complete eradication or irreversible deactivation of all microbial forms including spores and prions. While steaming and autoclaving can be used along with fluids, gas sterilization using gases such as ethylene oxide is a better alternative for sensitive equipment. Mandated for postsurgical uses.

Additionally, air filters, trackballs, keyboards, and connections need to be cleaned and maintained to manufacturer's specifications on a regular basis. So you can see, the care and maintenance is exacting, and practices small and large must follow the directions for cleaning and ultrasound maintenance exactly. Instead of training all ultrasound personnel to do the cleaning and maintenance, many practices employ an outside service with knowledgeable, certified technicians to make sure that their machines are in top condition at all times. Contacting an ultrasound repair and maintenance service will make sure that your units are giving the best images with minimal downtime. 

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