Shooting with sound: Optimizing an affordable ballistic gelatin recipe in a graded ultrasound phantom education program

Shariff F. Tanious, Jamie Cline, Jennifer Cavin, Nathan Davidson, J. Keegan Coleman, Craig W. Goodmurphy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Objectives-The goal of this study was to investigate the durability and longevity of gelatin formulas for the production of staged ultrasound phantoms for education. Methods-Gelatin phantoms were prepared from Knox gelatin (Kraft Foods, Northfield, IL) and a standard 10%-by-mass ordinance gelatin solution. Phantoms were durability tested by compressing to a 2-cm depth until cracking was visible. Additionally, 16 containers with varying combinations of phenol, container type, and storage location were tested for longevity against desiccation and molding. Once formulation was determined, 4 stages of phantoms from novice to clinically relevant were poured, and clinicians with ultrasound training ranked them on a 7-point Likert scale based on task difficulty, phantom suitability, and fidelity. Results- On durability testing, the ballistic gelatin outperformed the Knox gelatin by more than 200 compressions. On longevity testing, gelatin with a 0.5% phenol concentration stored with a lid and refrigeration lasted longest, whereas containers without a lid had desiccation within 1 month, and those without phenol became moldy within 6 weeks. Ballistic gelatin was more expensive when buying in small quantities but was 7.4% less expensive when buying in bulk. The staged phantoms were deemed suitable for training, but clinicians did not consistently rank the phantoms in the intended order of 1 to 4 (44%). Conclusions-Refrigerated and sealed ballistic gelatin with phenol was a cost-effective method for creating in-house staged ultrasound phantoms suitable for large-scale ultrasound educational training needs. Clinician ranking of phantoms may be influenced by current training methods that favor biological tissue scanning as easier.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1011-1018
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Ultrasound in Medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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