Design And Commercialization Of A Medical Ultrasound Calibration Phantom For Rivanna Medical; The Transition Of Ultrasound Devices From Cart-Based To Handheld And Its Effect On The Field Of Medicine

White, Nicole, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
Elliott, Travis, Engineering and Society, University of Virginia
Dixon, Adam, RIVANNA Medical LLC

My STS research topic and technical topic are connected through the utilization of two medical devices: calibration phantoms and ultrasound systems. My technical topic focused on developing a calibration device for ultrasound systems, while my research paper analyzed the evolution of ultrasound systems from their cart–based form factor to their handheld form factor. An ultrasound system is a device used to diagnose and treat patients using sound waves to view the tissues and organs within the body. Despite the differences of the research, the common goal of these two topics is to improve the field of medicine through the use of medical devices.

The focus of my technical project was to design and commercialize a multi-tissue, multi-purpose calibration phantom that biomedical equipment technicians can use to test the quality of ultrasound imaging systems. A calibration phantom is a device used to ensure that ultrasound imaging systems meet quality specifications. The newly designed calibration phantom will reduce manufacturing costs, have a longer lifespan compared to other phantoms currently on the market, and will contain a novel tissue-mimicking material. Ultimately, the goal is to make ultrasound calibration phantoms more affordable and as a result more accessible to healthcare providers.

My STS research paper focused solely on ultrasound imaging systems. Specifically, I analyzed the transition from using cart-based ultrasound imaging systems to handheld ultrasound devices and their effect on the field of medicine. Using the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) framework, I analyzed how relevant social groups’ perceptions about the social, economic, and technical factors of the handheld ultrasound device impacted the implementation of the device into society. I also explored how handheld ultrasound devices impacted each social group in order to determine how its introduction improved the field of medicine.

Throughout the process of working on my technical topic and STS research topic, I realized accessibility to medical devices was a common problem within the field of medicine. After analyzing the economic factors that played a role in the implementation of handheld ultrasound devices, I discovered that there was limited accessibility to ultrasound imaging systems because of the cost of conventional cart-based systems. Furthermore, while researching the limitations of current calibration phantoms on the market, I learned that many hospitals in rural areas had a shortage of in-house calibration phantoms because of its high cost. As a result, many rural hospitals were forced to close their doors permanently because they could not provide the desired quality of care. For this reason, I felt motivated to produce an ultrasound calibration phantom that was more affordable and accessible for all. Developing a more accessible ultrasound calibration phantom will allow for handheld ultrasound devices to have an extended lifespan, and ultimately have a positive impact on the field of medicine.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
RIVANNA, Handheld Ultrasound Device, Tissue-Mimicking Material, Ultrasound, Calibration, Phantom, Social Construction of Technology, Accessibility

School of Engineering and Applied Science
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Technical Advisor: Dr. Adam Dixon
STS Advisor: S. Travis Elliott
Technical Team Members: Helen Anton, Jennifer Marchibroda, Alexis Porco

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