Veterinary Ultrasound Part II – High-Quality and High-Intensity Image Systems
In Part I of this MicroSolutions topic, an overview of the growing healthcare industry for animals was discussed – along with the importance of ultrasound capabilities used by veterinary healthcare providers. These systems are utilized during pregnancy and when other critical medical diagnostics are required. Microchip’s high-channel-count and high-channel density products providing compact and integrated solutions were covered as key enablers to ultrasound imaging systems. This MicroSolutions blog discusses other technology critical to the imaging systems used in veterinary care.
One of the main uses of ultrasound machines is to detect pregnancies in animals. High-quality images are required for accurate diagnoses of pregnancies in farm animals. These machines also need to be high intensity (higher voltage and higher current pulses) so the stronger pulses can penetrate through large animals. For small animals brought into vet clinics, good quality machines with high-resolution images in black and white or color are required for detection of pregnancies, tumors or other illnesses.
With technological advancements, higher and higher channel counts are possible in a small-sized integrated circuit. Higher channel count means higher image quality. Getting higher channel density in a smaller footprint is now more feasible and affordable. Integration of features like beam-forming in a pulser also enables the reduction of noise introduced by the field programmable gate array (FPGA), hence, improves image quality. Check out the comparative image that shows the improvement in image quality as you go to a higher number of channels in an ultrasound system.
Microchip leverages expertise from the medical ultrasound arena to provide high-quality systems for veterinary needs. For example, Microchip’s latest high voltage (HV) pulsers with integrated beam-forming feature enable precise imaging by eliminating the need for off-chip FPGA doing beam-forming; this reduces the probable noise being added to the signal in the FPGA and through the traces coming to the HV pulser. Microchip HV pulsers that have don’t have the integrated beam-forming functionality have an extra re-timing clock to align the signals and improve image quality. Microchip HV pulsers also have excellent 2nd Harmonic (HD2) rejection.
In ultrasound, second harmonic signals are used to create ultrasound images, which requires extraneous noise at that frequency to be rejected. This can be achieved by having good HD2 rejection from the transmitter.
Microchip has a unique, proprietary IP topology allowing our products to achieve lower R-on and low parasitic capacitance for HV MUX, which reduces distortion in the signal path and enables better image quality.
Microchip also offers discrete HV MOSFET and MOSFET drivers to achieve strong drive currents for high-intensity ultrasound machines. Based on our proven, strong HV process capabilities, we are able to offer HV Pulsers with voltages ranging from +/-70 V to +150 V.
Veterinary ultrasound machines have long life cycles. The traditional carts have a lifetime that spans from anywhere between seven to 15 years, whereas the probes last for four to six years. Since these are complex and advanced machines, the replacement is expensive and cumbersome. Therefore, it is critical that the electronic products in these machines are reliable and have long-term availability.
Microchip follows a strict quality control procedure and a customer-led obsolesce policy. Microchip has been a significant player in the human-medical ultrasound market for years. Many Microsoft products are not only FDA approved but also already-in-use in many ultrasound machines used in the healthcare industry for humans. This success is a precursor for our success in the veterinary ultrasound industry.