JP2000271119

Patent Translate
Powered by EPO and Google
Notice
This translation is machine-generated. It cannot be guaranteed that it is intelligible, accurate,
complete, reliable or fit for specific purposes. Critical decisions, such as commercially relevant or
financial decisions, should not be based on machine-translation output.
DESCRIPTION JP2000271119
[0001]
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION 1. Field of the Invention The present invention relates to
acoustic couplers used in ultrasound probes, and more particularly to the improvement of
ultrasound imaging characteristics.
[0002]
2. Description of the Related Art An acoustic coupler for an ultrasonic probe is a material having
a thickness of several mm to several cm, and is used by being placed between the ultrasonic
probe and a test object. By using this acoustic coupler, the lens focus of the ultrasonic probe in
the inspection object is moved to the surface side, so if the probe is directly in contact with the
inspection object, the out-of-focus surface The site can be scanned. In addition, in a probe that
performs sector scanning, it is also used for applications such as securing a distance between an
inspection object and expanding a scan area.
[0003]
This acoustic coupler is of a solid type using a polymer or the like, or a water bag type having a
latex bag injected with water, but both are materials that are less attenuating ultrasonic waves,
Moreover, it is comprised with the material excellent in the softness ¦ flexibility so that it may
generally fit to the surface to be examined which is a curved surface or has unevenness.
03-05-2019
1
[0004]
FIG. 5 is a schematic vertical sectional view showing a use state of a conventional acoustic
coupler.
The acoustic coupler 2 is pinched and crushed between the ultrasonic wave transmitting /
receiving wavefront of the ultrasonic probe 4 and the inspection object 6 when the ultrasonic
probe 4 is used. As a result, the acoustic coupler 2 is in close contact with both of them, and the
ultrasonic wave transmitted and received between the ultrasonic probe 4 and the inspection
object 6 is well transmitted.
[0005]
6 is a schematic plan view of the usage state of the conventional acoustic coupler shown in FIG.
[0006]
As shown in FIGS. 5 and 6, the surface (side surface) of the conventional acoustic coupler other
than the ultrasonic probe and the portion to be abutted against the object to be inspected has a
large radius of curvature. It is a monotonous shape such as a curved surface or a plane.
Further, the facing side surfaces are substantially parallel to each other. For this reason, there has
been a problem that the ultrasonic wave emitted from the ultrasonic probe and the reflected
wave from the object to be inspected easily cause multiple reflection in the acoustic coupler, and
the image quality of the ultrasonic image is degraded. The multiple reflections are largely
affected by the reflection on the side surface of the acoustic coupler. That is, since the ultrasonic
waves are substantially totally reflected inside the side in contact with air, for example, even if
the ultrasonic wave reflected by the transmission / reception wavefront of the ultrasonic probe
or the surface to be inspected reaches the side, it does not escape to the outside Returning to the
interior of the acoustic coupler again promotes multiple reflections.
[0007]
In particular, since the facing side faces are close to a parallel plane as described above, the
ultrasonic wave is reflected near the specular reflection at the side face and easily reciprocates
between the facing side faces, which also promotes multiple reflection. It is considered to be a
03-05-2019
2
contributing factor.
[0008]
The present invention has been made to solve the above-mentioned problems, and it is an object
of the present invention to provide an acoustic coupler capable of suppressing multiple reflection
and improving the image quality of an ultrasonic image.
[0009]
An acoustic coupler for an ultrasonic probe according to the present invention is an acoustic
coupling member which can be deformed according to an external force and which is in close
contact with a transmission / reception wavefront and an inspection object, and the acoustic
coupling. The holder is surrounded by a side surface of the member and has a holder having an
unevenness toward the side surface, and the holder and the side surface of the acoustic coupling
member are pressure-contacted at least at the time of transmission and reception of ultrasonic
waves, and the unevenness is formed on the side surface It is characterized in that
[0010]
According to the present invention, even if the acoustic coupling member of the water bag type
or the solid type alone has a simple shape by itself, the side surface is made uneven according to
the holder shape by being pressed against the holder surrounding the side surface Is transformed
into a shape with
The ultrasonic waves reflected on this side are diffused and attenuated by the unevenness
provided on this side.
[0011]
In another acoustic probe for an ultrasonic probe according to the present invention, the acoustic
coupling member is loosely inserted in the holder and is sandwiched between the ultrasonic
probe and the inspection object when the acoustic coupler is used. It is characterized in that it is
rolled laterally and pressed against the holder.
[0012]
According to the present invention, when the ultrasonic probe is not applied to the inspection
03-05-2019
3
object, the acoustic coupling member is in a state of being loosely inserted into the holder, so
that the holder and the acoustic coupling member can be easily separated. Therefore, it is easy to
replace the holder and use the one having asperities which gives a good image quality.
[0013]
DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS [First Embodiment] Next, an embodiment of
the present invention will be described with reference to the drawings.
[0014]
FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an ultrasonic probe equipped with an acoustic coupler according
to an embodiment of the present invention, as viewed obliquely from below.
As shown in FIG. 2, this ultrasonic probe is configured by combining an ultrasonic probe 10, a
holder 12 and an acoustic coupling member 14.
[0015]
The ultrasound probe 10 has a rectangular transmitting and receiving wave surface 16.
The acoustic coupling member 14 has a rectangular cross section sized to cover the transmission
/ reception wave surface 16.
Further, the holder 12 is constituted by a frame 18 having a rectangular opening through which
the ultrasonic probe 10 and the acoustic coupling member 14 can be loosely inserted, and a
plurality of cylinders 20 erected on the frame 18.
[0016]
In use, the transmission / reception wavefront 16 of the ultrasonic probe 10 and the upper
surface of the acoustic coupling member 14 are abutted within the opening of the frame 18 of
03-05-2019
4
the holder 12.
Then, the lower surface 22 of the acoustic coupling member 14 abuts on the surface to be
inspected.
[0017]
FIG. 3 is a perspective view from the diagonal lower direction at the time of use of the ultrasonic
probe equipped with the present acoustic coupler.
When the user grips the ultrasonic probe 10 held by the user, the acoustic coupling member 14
is brought into close contact with the surface to be inspected. At this time, the acoustic coupling
member 14 is compressed in the longitudinal direction by being sandwiched between the
transmission / reception wave surface 16 and the surface to be inspected, while extending in the
lateral direction according to the compression in the longitudinal direction. As a result of the
rolling of the acoustic coupling member 14, the cross-sectional area of the acoustic coupling
member 14 is increased, and the side surface thereof bites into the gap of the cylinder 20.
[0018]
Thereby, the inner surface shape of the side surface of the acoustic coupling member 14 is a
curved surface that is restricted by the cylinder 20 and protrudes outward from between the
cylinders 20 according to the convex portion along the cylinder surface and the internal stress of
the acoustic coupling member 14 The recessed portions, which are as described above, are
alternately arranged along the side circumferential direction.
[0019]
As described above, as the side surface of the acoustic coupling member 14 is uneven in the
circumferential direction, the ultrasonic waves striking the side surface are scattered mainly in
the cross section in various directions.
Here, the ultrasonic wave effective for observation is a reflected wave that is returned directly to
the transmission / reception wavefront 16 from the inspection object, or a transmission wave
03-05-2019
5
that is directly incident on the inspection object from the transmission / reception wavefront 16.
The ultrasonic wave reflected by is a component not used for observation. If this unnecessary
component is received by the ultrasound probe 10 at the end of multiple reflection or is incident
on the inspection object, the image quality of the ultrasound image is degraded. However, when
this acoustic coupler is used, components that lead to such image quality deterioration are
diffused and made uniform within the acoustic coupling member 14 and are incident on the
ultrasonic probe 10 of such components and the inspection object The path length up to the
point is generally increased to attenuate the component. This prevents the formation of large
unnecessary ultrasonic waves due to multiple reflections and the like, and prevents such
unnecessary ultrasonic waves from being incident on the ultrasonic probe 10 and the object to
be inspected, thus reducing artifacts. Images are obtained. In addition, the attenuation of the
unnecessary ultrasonic components in the acoustic coupling member 14 can also reduce the
noise level observed by the ultrasonic probe 10.
[0020]
By the way, the shape (for example, curvature) of the corner of the connecting part between the
side and the lower surface and the connecting part between the side and the upper surface is
also affected by the biting of the cylinder 20 and is not uniform in the circumferential direction.
Unnecessary ultrasonic components are diffused in the longitudinal direction, contributing to the
improvement of image quality.
[0021]
The distance between the cylinders 20 and the radius thereof are determined so as to realize the
shape of the acoustic coupling member 14 in which the scattering on the side surfaces is
favorably performed in use.
Those suitable values may vary depending on, for example, the non-compression shape (crosssectional shape and longitudinal cross-sectional shape) of the acoustic coupling member 14 and
the frequency of ultrasonic waves. In some cases, it may be preferable to make the distance
between the cylinders 20 and the radius different between the long side and the short side of the
frame 18.
[0022]
03-05-2019
6
The spacing of the cylinders 20 also depends on the flexibility of the acoustic coupling member
14. When the acoustic coupling member 14 is soft, even if the distance between the cylinders 20
is narrow, the acoustic coupling member 14 sufficiently protrudes outward by the pressure of
the user, and a recess that produces a large scattering angle can be obtained. If the coupling
member 14 is rigid, the spacing between the cylinders 20 would have to be increased
accordingly.
[0023]
In the present acoustic coupler, the holder 12 and the acoustic coupling member 14 dig into
each other to enhance the integrity in use, but are easily separated in the non-use. Therefore, it is
easy to exchange for the holder 12 in which a favorable image is obtained according to the
ultrasound probe 10 or a condition, and to observe.
[0024]
The present invention is not limited to the case in which the shape of the frame 18 of the holder
12 and the cross-sectional shape of the acoustic coupling member 14 are rectangular.
[0025]
Second Embodiment FIG. 4 is a perspective view schematically showing a portion of another
example of the holder.
In this holder, cylinders 30 are erected on the frame 18 similarly to the holder 12 at intervals,
and a crosspiece 32 is passed horizontally between adjacent cylinders 30 to constitute a lattice.
[0026]
According to this holder, the side surface of the acoustic coupling member 14 not only causes
unevenness in the side circumferential direction during use, but also causes unevenness in the
vertical direction, so that unnecessary ultrasonic waves are not only in the horizontal direction
but also in the vertical direction Is also well scattered.
[0027]
03-05-2019
7
In addition to this, on the frame 18 of the holder, fences of a mesh structure of various shapes
can be erected in order to deform the side surfaces of the acoustic coupling member 14 into
irregularities during use.
[0028]
In addition, in a holder of a type in which cylinders such as the holder 12 are erected at intervals,
in order to obtain the effect of vertical scattering, the radius of each cylinder is periodically
changed according to the position in the vertical direction. It is also effective to provide a
projection on the side of the cylinder facing the acoustic coupling member 14.
[0029]
In addition, the holder has a wall surrounding the side of the acoustic coupling member 14 on
the frame 18, and the inner surface of the wall, that is, the surface on the acoustic coupling
member 14 side is corrugated or has a surface shape with projections. The configuration is also
included in the present invention.
[0030]
Third Embodiment The present invention is also characterized in that it is easy to provide
asperities on the side surface of the acoustic coupling member.
That is, it is troublesome to form the surface of the acoustic coupling member itself as
irregularities, and since the acoustic coupling member is flexible, when the internal pressure is
increased at the time of use, the irregularities provided on itself are maintained. Although there is
a problem that it is difficult to do this, the present invention solves this and makes it possible to
easily provide asperities on the side of the acoustic coupling member.
[0031]
This feature can be utilized even if the acoustic coupling member is not loosely inserted into the
holder.
Specifically, the acoustic coupling member is in close contact with the holder when it is not in
03-05-2019
8
use, and the side surface thereof is kept uneven.
Such an acoustic coupler is manufactured by press-fitting a larger acoustic coupling member into
a holder.
Therefore, as in the above embodiment, removing the acoustic coupling member from the holder
is not as easy as in the above embodiment, but if the holder does not need to be changed, the
acoustic coupler is kept integrated, so it is handled rather Has the advantage of being easy.
[0032]
According to the acoustic probe coupler for an ultrasonic probe of the present invention, the
acoustic coupling member is regulated by the holder, and the unevenness is formed on the side
surface, and the unevenness of the unnecessary ultrasonic wave component is scattered by the
unevenness Therefore, the effect of suppressing the image quality deterioration of the ultrasonic
image caused by the multiple reflection of the ultrasonic wave inside the acoustic coupling
member can be obtained, and the accuracy of the diagnosis etc. to be performed based on the
result can be improved. Further, according to the present invention, according to the present
invention, the side surface of the acoustic coupling member is provided with the unevenness to
maintain the unevenness as compared with the case where the sound coupling member itself is
provided with the unevenness and maintained even when the internal pressure increases. It also
has the effect of being easy.
[0033]
Further, according to the acoustic probe coupler for an ultrasonic probe of the present invention,
since the acoustic coupling member is loosely inserted into the holder when not in use, it is easy
to replace the holder and reduce artifacts. An advantage is obtained that ultrasonic diagnosis can
be performed by replacing the holder.
03-05-2019
9