You are spending a month in rural Kenya, doing an ultrasound teaching course. Your enthusiastic participants have been ultrasounding every chance they get. Unfortunately, this has caused your ultrasound gel supplies to dwindle. It will be a month before a new shipment of gel arrives from Nairobi. This gel will cost about $5 per bottle, which is a considerable expense for the local hospital’s budget.
Trick of the Trade: Homemade ultrasound gel
With a few simple and ubiquitous ingredients, you can make your own ultrasound gel to use.
- Corn starch
- Pot or pan
- Heat source
- Empty and clean bottle
- Combine 1 part corn starch to 10 parts water in a pan. Here, we use ¼ cup corn starch to 2 ½ cups water to make about 2 gel bottles full.
- Heat this mixture while stirring constantly at medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
- When the substance begins to boil, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to cool.
- Pour the mixture into a clean, preferably sterilized, container. Here, we use an old commercial ultrasound gel bottle which we placed in boiling water for 10 minutes first.
- Ultrasound away! Note that the gel should be used within 48-72 hours for best results. After that, it may begin to separate a bit.
Word of Caution
This homemade gel does not have the same bacteriostatic ingredients that are in commercial ultrasound gel. Therefore we do no recommend its use for skin and soft tissue infections.