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Echoencephaloscope - how to make the right choice in the modern market conditions

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V. Saharov

Echoencephaloscope - how to make the right choice in the modern market conditions

Echoencephaloscopy is a diagnostic method intended to discover significant pathological processes in the human brain by using the supersound. It’s worth noting that both "echoencephaloscopy" and "echoencephalography" are similar, as well as the names of the respective devices. Sometimes it may be called the echography or even M-echo, and it will still have the same meaning.

In comparison with all other functional diagnostic methods, this diagnostic is relatively easy to study and apply. Even though computed tomography scanners are getting more and more popular, Echoencephaloscopy is still in use. In Russia it caused by the fact that not each and every hospital can afford extremely expensive computed tomography scanner, and not all of them are suitable to install such devices. Such situation usually happens in small and remote towns where it’s almost impossible to find a fully equipped hospital. Furthermore, the price of computed tomography scanning is still relatively high for the majority of Russian customers.

All these facts create the situation when the echoencephaloscope is still demanded and included in the list of the most important equipment for hospitals and functional diagnostic departments.

What can be found with the echoencephaloscope?

It can be used to find cysts, hemorrhages, hematomas, abscesses, tuberculosis, gumma tumors, calcifications, edemas, bruises and other inflammatory or traumatic pathologies. All of them cause changes in the volume and the appearance of the brain structure. The echoencephaloscope is able to register the pulsation of the brain vessels and differentiate the state of the symmetric structures, allowing discovering aneurysms. In the case of kids, the echoscopy is used to discover the main signs of the hemiatrophy and extensive lesion of the brain as a result of the birth trauma.

Echoencephaloscope, which has its own autonomous power supply, is a useful device for express diagnostic. It allows identifying the level of the head injury (in case if there was one) and choosing the right department to send the patient, who may require an urgent brain surgery before doing anything else.

The main criteria of a worthy echoencephaloscope are the high accuracy of the ultrasonic signal processing and the reliability. These parameters define the overall quality of the diagnostic and the feasibility of all further actions of neurologists and neural surgeons.

General requirements to the modern echoencephaloscope

As we described above, the echoencephaloscope (or the echoencephalograph) can be installed as a stationary device in the functional diagnostic department, as well as used as mobile medical equipment for an ambulance.

Such situation creates a lot of specific requirements. In general, stationary equipment is not limited in size, but we are living in the world of new technologies, and all the manufacturers are doing their best to create the smallest device possible. It can also be connected to the power socket in the room. The stationary version doesn’t need to be equipped with a battery because it would require additional charging and monitoring from the medical personnel. On the left side of the image, you can see an example of such device, i.e. Ultrasonic by Neurotech. No doubt that these days we prefer to use computerized machines and equipment. All the doctors today know how to use computers, and it won’t create any problems, especially in case if an echoencephaloscope is supplied with a set of convenient software. The application has to include a database in order to store information about the patients and reports, allowing the doctor to discharge the patient and forward them to a different department.

A portable echoencephaloscope has to be both small and light, otherwise, the doctor will be tired carrying it around in critical conditions. In addition, it has to be equipped with an autonomous power source, which is not connected to the power network of the vehicle. The system has to be fit in a compact case, including all required features and tools. An example of such system is shown in the left image. This also a modification of Ultrasonic device based on the previous generation. Echo-signal is shown on the laptop (mobile computer). The laptop is also used as the power source for the device. Such laptop is the best choice because it can work up to 4-5 hours on a single charge, allowing using all standard programs and applications. We are limited only with the size of the hard disk, which is used to store information about the examinations.

Another important element is a pedal, which is used when the hands of the doctor are busy in order to start the probing signal (examination) or stop it. Such solution is convenient for stationary models, but it’s not really great for the portable one. Neurotech decided to make a step forward and combined an ultrasonic sensor and the device, locating the button right on the case of such combined device. By doing so we managed to decrease both the size and the number of elements. Now all the elements are combined into one attractive device!

Technical requirements for the echoencephalograph

Now, when we know the layout and the parameters of the device, we need to talk about its technical characteristics. One needs to understand the origin of signals and numbers; otherwise, you may face such serious problems as the high level of noise or inability to work with the people of different age etc.

The idea of this article is to provide the beginners and aspiring users with the technical parameters of the echoencephaloscope by using our product as an example.

The main technical parameters are the probing depth, the resolution, and the blind zone.

Probing depth

The probing depth is the maximum distance between the transmitter and the surface, which depends on the power of the device and the absorbing capacity of the tissue, which increases when the high frequency is used. The standard frequency of the sensor stays somewhere between 1 and 2MHz. This value was calculated using the physical nature of the ultrasound, including its speed and the damping rate in various organs of the human body. All modern devices are equipped with a separate sensor for kids and adults. However, during performing numerous tests, experts of Neurotech managed to find a working frequency that stays in the basic range, and a specific probing impulse, which allows using the frequency of 1,76MHz to perform an examination of both children and adults. This is a great addition to the basic functionality; however, one may still use separate sensors for children and adults. The maximum probing depth of the device is 230 mm. We have no information about the available echo-signal measuring methods having the probing depth of more than 230 mm. Depending on the model and the manufacturer this value stays in the range from 200 to 230 mm (including Ultrasonic Device).

Resolution

The resolution is the closest distance between two reflecting surfaces, which can be used to receive two echo-signals. This is one of the most important parameters because it defines if the device is able to find the smallest objects and structures located close one to another. In fact, the resolution is the minimum distance between two small objects, which allows seeing both of them on the screen, i.e. when the doctor can clearly tell that there are two elements. The resolution decreases with the lowering of the sampling frequency. The higher is the resolution (the lower is the number), the smaller objects can be found during the examination. This parameter defines the accuracy of the device, thus you need to find the device with the lowest resolution possible. For example, our Ultrasonic has the resolution of 1 mm.

Blind zone

The blind zone is an area near the ultrasonic probe, which can’t be used to register an echo-signal. The size of the blind zone depends on the power of the device. Thus, the diagnostic efficiency of the method depends on the power and the working frequency of probes. Ultrasonic has the blind zone of 15 mm.

Another important feature is the differential gain control. In other words, it means that the system (the receiving part of the device) is able to amplify a specific range of the signal shown on the screen. It helps to remove the noise from useless objects and increase the signal of the object of interest.

Conclusion

In this article we tried to describe all the basic and technical requirements for the modern encephalograph, telling you about our own device. We want to note once more that the software complex has to be easy to use. The working window has to support start and stop of the probing, choosing various working methods, editing automatically obtained results, and calculating the main parameters. We hope this article will be useful, and you will buy the best encephalograph. Neurotech wishes you good luck and only success in both work and examinations!

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