Ultrasound systems of the future may well become handheld and become the physician's second “stethoscope.” Technology breakthroughs have yielded more portable and efficient ultrasound systems with improved image performance and increased functionality. Higher dynamic range, lower power, and more compact system-level ICs provide high quality images that allow for better diagnoses.
This article looks at issues and tradeoffs in the medical ultrasound system design, and how they are changing. Even if you are involved at present in design of these systems, the article will enlighten you. It also includes a section of current references, many of which are hot-linked.
Note that the intellectual property (IP) of most ultrasound manufacturers lies within the probe and beamformer technology. Multichannel integration of commodity devices, including quad and octal ADCs, minimizes high-cost analog components and reduces the need for time-consuming calibrations in the time-gain-control receive path. Other portions of the ultrasound system offer possibilities for further integration. Integration of more of the signal chain portion will lead to further reductions in power, size, and cost as well as increased processing capability.
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About the author
Rob Reeder is a senior converter applications engineer working in the high-speed signal-processing group at Analog Devices, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1998, and is responsible for development and support on high-speed ADCs (analog-to-digital converters). Rob received his MSEE and BSEE from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.