An apparatus has been devised to enable accurate, reproducible angular positioning of an ultrasonic probe used to diagnose the carotid artery. More specifically, the apparatus is intended for use in a clinical setting in which the intima-media thickness (IMT) of the carotid artery is measured by use of information in ultrasound images. The IMT is useful as an indication of the health status of the carotid artery.

Ultrasonic probes are used to obtain longitudinal-view images of the carotid artery. The IMT can then be measured from these images. However, in order to obtain these images, it is necessary first to find the appropriate site with a transverse view and then to rotate each ultrasonic probe 90°. Heretofore, the probe has been rotated manually and without the benefit of a fixed reference.

The present apparatus includes a holder that accommodates various ultrasonic probes, and a cylindrical housing that rests on the patient's neck, acts as an anchor, and provides a fixed reference. A small stepping motor in the housing is coupled to the holder through gears. An electronic control unit sends control pulses to the motor when either a panel switch or a foot switch is pressed. The control pulses cause the motor to turn the holder, and thus the probe, by 90°. A second actuation of the switch causes the motor to rotate the probe back to the original angle.

The advantage afforded by this apparatus is greater (compared to manual rotation) accuracy in returning to a specific site in the carotid artery. The disadvantage is that the apparatus adds weight and bulk to the probe.

This work was done by Helenann Kwong-Fu, Paul L. Lee, and Robert Selzer of Caltech and Howard Hodis of USC for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

In accordance with Public Law 96-517, the contractor has elected to retain title to this invention. Inquiries concerning rights for its commercial use should be addressed to

Intellectual Property group
Mail Stop 202-233
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
(818) 354-2240

Refer to NPO-21244.

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).
Document cover
Motorized Rotator for an Ultrasonic Probe

(reference NPO21244) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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