Legacy imagers use many probes each
optimized for a specific body organ depth
(frequency) and size. Some high-end
systems use up to 18. Emerging silicon
transducers enable construction of the
broad bandwidth probes (e.g., 1 to 15
MHz), enabling low-cost “universal”
imagers that can be used on most body
parts, instead of many specialized probes.
1-15 MHz bandwidth could support
imaging of about 95 percent of the body
organs, Bryzek says.
Silicon integrated transducers can
easily implement beam steering, enabling
capturing images of large and small organs with a small footprint, for example,
imaging the heart in between ribs and
imaging the face of a baby in the womb.
A significant new development is the
emergence of ultrasound tomography.
Traditional ultrasound transducers operate
in reflective mode, sending ultrasound
waves into the body and sensing the
wave’s reflection. Around 70 percent of
the body parts can be imaged this way.
Ultrasound tomography operates in transmissive mode, with one transducer array
transmitting ultrasound on one side of the
body and another receiving on the other,
then rotating around the body. This allows
the majority of body parts to be imaged.
Thousands of transducer elements are
used along with precision rotation and
displacement to capture entire organs
such as a breast. “The resulting image
quality beats MRI, and since it is non-ra-diating and non-ionizing, it promises to
displace all other imaging techniques
like XRay, CT, etc. It also has the major
benefit to detect medical problems much
earlier than other techniques,” says
The most impactful and earth-shaking
capabilities that will be designed into future transducers, Bryzek says, is the introduction of AI into handheld imagers. “AI
brings multiple advantages to ultrasound
imaging. It can guide untrained users to
acquire clinically relevant images. It also
has the potential for an immediate interpretation of the image, instead of waiting
hours or days for results. Diagnostics
recommendations will be based on large
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numbers of annotated images (perhaps
millions), increasing the probability of a
good diagnosis,” he says.
Sensing X-Rays with Lower Doses
New X-ray sensors are helping perform
dynamic digital radiography when
patients are moving or can’t keep still. In
some instances, there is movement when
breathing occurs but a static snapshot is
desired. In other applications, fluoroscopy
needs to capture the movement of dye
injected in the patient.
Roopinder Grewal, Senior Director of
Medical Business Development for ON
Semiconductor’s Image Sensor Group