Technical Note: A new phantom design for routine testing of Doppler ultrasound

J V Grice, D R Pickens, R R Price
Medical Physics 2016, 43 (7): 4431

PURPOSE: The objective of this project is to demonstrate the principle and operation for a simple, inexpensive, and highly portable Doppler ultrasound quality assurance (QA) phantom intended for routine QA testing. A prototype phantom has been designed, fabricated, and evaluated. The phantom described here is powered by gravity alone, requires no external equipment for operation, and produces a stable fluid velocity useful for quality assurance. Many commercially available Doppler ultrasound testing systems can suffer from issues such as a lengthy setup, prohibitive cost, nonportable size, or difficulty in use. This new phantom design aims to address some of these problems and create a phantom appropriate for assessing Doppler ultrasound stability.

METHODS: The phantom was fabricated using a 3D printer. The basic design of the phantom is to provide gravity-powered flow of a Doppler fluid between two reservoirs. The printed components were connected with latex tubing and then seated in a tissue mimicking gel. Spectral Doppler waveforms were sampled to evaluate variations in the data, and the phantom was evaluated using high frame rate video to find an alternate measure of mean fluid velocity flowing in the phantom.

RESULTS: The current system design maintains stable flow from one reservoir to the other for approximately 7 s. Color Doppler imaging of the phantom was found to be qualitatively consistent with laminar flow. Using pulsed spectral Doppler, the average fluid velocity from a sample volume approximately centered in the synthetic vessel was measured to be 56 cm/s with a standard deviation of 3.2 cm/s across 118 measurements. An independent measure of the average fluid velocity was measured to be 51.9 cm/s with a standard deviation of 0.7 cm/s over 4 measurements.

CONCLUSIONS: The developed phantom provides stable fluid flow useful for frequent clinical Doppler ultrasound testing and attempts to address several obstacles facing Doppler phantom testing. Such an ultrasound phantom can make routine testing more approachable for institutions that wish to initiate a Doppler QA program or complement a previously existing QA program.

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