Holding the probe

righthandprobe Holding the probe

Figure 1. Holding the probe for general scanning

Novice sonographers often hold the ultrasound probe like a dead mouse they found under the sink.

Many people seem afraid to get gel on their hands or make physical contact with patients, both of which are just part of scanning.
Instead of treating the probe like an alien object, hold it like something you hold everyday: a pen.

As demonstrated in Figure 1, grasp the probe with the first three fingers of your dominant hand. This is enough to stabilize the probe well. This leaves the ring and little finger (as well as the heel of your hand) free to stabilize the probe on the patient. Use these remaining fingers to touch the patient, like dropping a kickstand down from a bicycle.

When you are properly stabilized, you don’t have to use pressure to keep yourself in place. Thus, the patient will be more comfortable and you will not fatigue your hand.

This is helpful in most scans, especially cardiac scans where people tend to slide around a lot. But it is absolutely critical when holding the probe for procedure guidance (Figure 2)- you can’t afford to slide around, and applying too much pressure will flatten out the veins!

lefthandprobe Holding the probe

Figure 2. Holding the probe for venous access (short axis approach)

2 thoughts on “Holding the probe

  1. Kathy Vo, MS4

    Dr. Nelson, you will find no dead mice under my sink. Even so, I still sometimes forget to stabilize the probe which causes me to lose an image in the blink of an eye. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Pingback: Top ultrasound scanning tips | Mount Sinai Emergency Medicine Ultrasound

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