Bedside ultrasound examinations are becoming more common. The portable technology enables Diagnostic Medical Sonographers to deliver healthcare services to people in rural areas or to people who are home bound. The ultrasound gel is a specially formulated conductive material that reduces static and promotes the transmission of sound waves to get a clearer ultrasound picture. It is applied to the skin and creates an aqueous interface between the skin and transducer.
Ultrasound gel is easily accessible in hospitals, medical centers and clinics in most areas. However, it is not always available in rural areas. Carrying enough ultrasound gel at all times can be difficult. The gel is heavy and cumbersome to store. It is also impossible to always anticipate how much ultrasound gel is needed when traveling to rural areas. At this point in time there is no instant ultrasound gel power that is sold commercially. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers may find themselves short of supplies when working in remote areas.
One solution is to make the ultrasound gel, rather than relying on commercial products. Making the ultrasound gel is easy to do by using items that can be purchased at a grocery store and easily transported:
- Mix 2 teaspoons of guar gum with one to two teaspoons of salt, which serves as an anti-clumping agent
- Boil 2 cups of water
- Sprinkle guar gum and salt into boiling water and mix well with a whisk
- Boil 2 minutes or until the mixture gets thick
- Let cool until the mixture becomes a gel
- Place gel in a squeeze bottle suitable for use during ultrasound imaging procedures, using a large funnel
Guar gum sounds exotic, but it has become easy to find because it is a gluten free product used as a thickener or emulsifier. Therefore, it is easily located in stores selling gluten-free products or at local food cooperatives. One of the advantages of making a homemade ultrasound gel is that the recipe produces a chemical free produce, unlike the commercially produced gels.
Many sonographers who have tried this homemade ultrasound gel like it better than the commercial products. It does not dry out as fast, is easily cleaned off skin and equipment, does not leave a sticky residue, and is even edible. It is also cheaper than the commercial products. The many advantages of the homemade product have led to a growing number of sonographers making their own ultrasound gel when they work in areas where there might be a shortage. Even if a sonographer works in a busy medical facility, it is advisable to learn how to make the ultrasound gel for emergency situations.