Utilising Gel and Spirit (Alcohol) in Veterinary Ultrasound ProceduresJan 27, 2023
The Importance of Using Ultrasound Gel in Veterinary Scans
Welcome to my blog post on the importance of using ultrasound gel during veterinary ultrasound scans on animals. As veterinary professionals, we understand the importance of providing the best care for our patients, and ultrasound scans are a crucial tool in diagnosing and treating a variety of conditions. However, many may not know the specifics of how to properly prepare an animal for an ultrasound scan.
The role of gel in ultrasound scans
In this post, we will explore the use of gel in ultrasound scans, as well as situations where alcohol spirit may be used as a pre-treatment for a more efficient scan. We will also discuss the use of spirit (alcohol) when taking samples and performing Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma (FAST) scans.
One important aspect of using ultrasound is the application of gel on the skin of the animal being scanned. The gel helps to create a smooth surface for the ultrasound probe to glide over and also helps to improve the transmission of sound waves through the skin.
When preparing an animal for ultrasound, I generally start by clipping any fur that is in the way of the area that I need to scan. After that, I apply gel directly to the skin. However, there are a few situations where I may use spirit (alcohol) to clean the area first.
Situations where spirit (alcohol) may be used as a pre-treatment
One such situation is when the animal is very greasy, and the gel will simply slide off the skin. In this case, I will apply spirit (alcohol) to the area first to clean it off and then use a blue roll to wipe it clean.
The spirit (alcohol) helps to decrease the skin's natural oils, which may also help the gel to absorb into the skin more quickly. However, I generally find that the time it takes for the spirit (alcohol) to dry is longer than the time it takes for the gel to absorb into the skin, so I don't use spirit (alcohol) in most cases. Another situation where I may use spirit (alcohol) is when I am taking samples, such as fine needle aspirates or biopsies. The gel can cause the cells to explode, which makes it difficult for pathologists to analyse the samples. In these cases, I don't use gel at all.
Using spirit (alcohol) when taking samples and performing FAST scans
Finally, I may also use spirit (alcohol) when performing FAST scans (Focused Assessment with Sonography for Trauma). In this case, I part the hair and apply spirit (alcohol) to create a more permanent parting, and then apply copious amounts of ultrasound gel to the exposed skin. This allows me to scan the animal without having to clip the fur while still ensuring that the probe has direct contact with the skin.
Using Spirit (Alcohol) on Ultrasound Probes: Pros and Cons
Many ultrasound manufacturers advise that spirit (alcohol) degrades the rubber on the footprint of the probe, causing it to deteriorate quicker than it otherwise would, and that is why it shouldn't be used for coupling (maximising the acoustic contact between the probe and the skin) all the time. Probes will naturally deteriorate from wear and tear and need replacing, and I would encourage the removal of barriers to using this valuable tool. For example, I am a peripatetic ultrasonographer and perform many ultrasound exams each week, and I use spirit (alcohol) in the above scenarios regularly. My probes after one year remain in good condition, but I am aware in the coming years, they will need replacing.
However, if you remain risk averse when it comes to the probe coming into contact, there are some things you can do to minimise the risk to the probe rubber footprint. These include using a glove - filling the glove with ultrasound gel and pushing the probe into one of the fingers, ensuring there is no air trapped - This glove and gel-covered finger can then be used on the spirit (alcohol) covered skin to take samples, for example.
Conclusion: The choice to use spirit (alcohol) or not depends on the specific situation and the veterinarian's professional judgement.
In conclusion, the application of ultrasound gel on the skin of an animal being scanned with ultrasound is a crucial aspect of the process. The gel helps to create a smooth surface for the probe to glide over and improves the transmission of sound waves through the skin. However, there are certain situations where spirit (alcohol) may be used to clean the area first before applying the gel. These include when the animal is very greasy, when taking samples, or when performing FAST scans. Ultimately, the choice to use spirit (alcohol) or not will depend on the specific situation and the veterinarian's professional judgement.
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