Header Image titled Ultimate Buying Guide for Portable Ultrasound Machines

Buyer’s Guide for Portable Ultrasound Machines

Header Image titled Ultimate Buying Guide for Portable Ultrasound Machines

Portable ultrasound machines have proved to be indispensable in the field of medical diagnostics, making them a crucial asset in any healthcare facility. Many medical practices and institutions have benefited from the accessibility, lightweight, mobility, and versatility of portable ultrasounds. Given their small size, these compact machines pack tremendous capability, thanks to rapidly evolving ultrasound technology.

Ultrasound machines have reduced in size to the point that doctors and operators can carry scanners in the pockets of their lab coats! The advent and widespread use of smartphones has furthered the realm of possibilities of portable and handheld equipment.

While portable ultrasounds are beneficial in providing timely and quality healthcare, to leverage the maximum benefits, it’s best to evaluate your requirements and consider all factors before buying a portable ultrasound machine for your practice.

What type of portable ultrasound equipment would best fit your imaging needs? Is it better to consider new or used ultrasound machines? What features should one look for in portable ultrasounds? How should you evaluate ultrasound machines for sale? We will answer these and some more questions in our complete guide to buying an ultrasound machine that is just right for your practice.

How to Choose the Right Portable Ultrasound for Your Practice

modern portable ultrasound machine

Portable and handheld ultrasound machines are not only extremely beneficial to your clinic but are also more reasonably priced than other console-based systems. Nonetheless, buying an ultrasound machine is a big financial investment that requires careful consideration.

The vast array of portable ultrasounds available on the market today can make it difficult to narrow it down to just one. Whether you’re looking at new or used ultrasound machines for sale, there are numerous possibilities. Here’s a breakdown of the categories of portable ultrasound equipment to help you understand the different options so you can buy the best ultrasound machine for your practice:

Types of Portable Ultrasound Machines

Portable ultrasound machines can be broadly classified into the following categories based on their size and weight:

Laptop Ultrasounds

As the name suggests, these are laptop-based systems that are lightweight and can be carried easily wherever you go. These typically weigh between 7 and 14 pounds.

Fold-Down Ultrasounds

These systems can be folded down vertically and weigh slightly more than laptop-based systems. The good news is that they come with two transducer ports.

Handheld, Tablet, or Hand-Operated Ultrasounds

This is, relatively, the newest category of portable ultrasounds. It holds significant potential, giving smartphones an opportunity to be converted into an ultrasound system simply with the help of a hand-held scanner.

Positive portable ultrasound machine reviews have substantiated the claim that these machines offer improved image quality. However, bigger systems pack more power and capabilities. So, if advanced or high-end features are an absolute necessity for your practice, consider a laptop or fold-down system.

Despite their size, portable ultrasounds are extremely well-suited to a ton of specialties, some of which are listed below:

  • OB/GYN
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Anesthesiology/Pain Management
  • Critical Care
  • Cardiac
  • Vascular
  • Veterinary
  • Musculoskeletal

Factors to Consider When Buying Portable Ultrasound Systems

portable ultrasound machine in use

What factors should you consider when buying a portable ultrasound machine that is perfect for your practice? Is it okay to buy a pre-owned portable ultrasound? What are the refurbished ultrasound buying factors to consider? We’ll go over possible answers to some of these frequently asked questions to assist you in your search.

Intended Applications

The first step in choosing the right portable ultrasound machine for your practice is considering all the intended applications of the equipment. Will you be using the machine primarily to conduct a pregnancy scan or to evaluate the organ damage of terminally ill patients? Will you be examining the heart function of accident victims in emergency settings? Or will you be using the portable equipment for a multitude of applications?

If your clinic has multiple areas of practice, consider buying a singular machine that meets all your imaging needs instead of having to buy a separate system for each clinical application. This can help you save thousands of dollars and ease operations, preventing the need to switch from one machine to another between exams.

Another benefit of considering the intended application early in the selection process is that it helps to narrow down the type of equipment that best matches your needs. For example, some clinics require an advanced machine with specialized features when concerning functionality. In contrast, other practices may require a basic machine with just the primary functions. The good news is that no matter what your requirements, the sheer variety available in the market today makes it easy to find the perfect match for your diagnostic needs.

Factoring in the intended usage helps narrow down the most suitable options and ensures that you don’t overspend or waste resources on an advanced capability that is not required for your practice.

Intended Usage

graphic depicting a doctor using a portable ultrasound machine

The number of times your practice will need an ultrasound on hand should also be considered during the selection process. If possible, calculate a rough estimate of the number of patients and the frequency of each type of scan that your practice performs. Also, consider the clinical or on-field setting in which you plan to use the purchased equipment. These two estimates will give you a good understanding of what you should prioritize when it comes to ultrasound functionality.

If the intended usage is low, consider buying a used or refurbished ultrasound. On the other hand, if the frequency of scans is high, you’ll be able to recover your investment in a shorter time period. In this case, you may want to examine new ultrasound machines for sale.

Key Features

What advanced features are essential for your practice? For instance, do you require Doppler or 3D/4D? In the course of your practice, how often do you need to scan obese or difficult to scan patients? If the answer is frequently, perhaps you may want to examine machine options with specialized technologies that make the process of scanning difficult patients easier.


An important purchase decision requires thoughtful allocation of your budget. Similar to trolley-based ultrasound machines, portable ultrasounds also have a wide price range, making it easier to find one that fits within your budget.

The starting price for portable ultrasound equipment is $5,000 and can go as high as $100,000 for advanced models. Given the varying prices, it’s best to determine your budget range early on in the selection. While considering your budget, be sure to account for additional costs like servicing, repairs, and parts.

New Vs. Refurbished

Should you opt for new or refurbished portable ultrasounds? New ultrasound machines come with a warranty, so the tradeoff is naturally between price and reliability.

If you want to opt for an advanced machine without having to invest a huge amount of resources, consider looking at refurbished ultrasound machines for sale. Refurbished systems are used machines that have been upgraded or restored and are available at a discounted cost of new machines. However, choosing the best-used ultrasound machine requires diligence and careful deliberation. It’s highly recommended to seek an expert user’s help to gauge the condition of the used equipment. Most importantly, not all models are available in refurbished forms, so be sure to check their availability.

The best practice is to keep an open mind towards both new and refurbished models and to request quotes for both, to make an informed decision after considering all options.


Many practices look for portable ultrasound equipment without really ascertaining whether they need mobility. For instance, if you plan on purchasing a single piece of ultrasound equipment and moving it between two clinics regularly, it would be more convenient to opt for two stationary units instead of a single portable system.

Another factor to consider is the imaging capability for your practice. Although portable equipment has undergone major progress over the last decade, console-based systems offer images with more resolution and advanced capabilities and functionality.

That said, there are situations in which portable ultrasound equipment is more suitable. For instance, if you’re constantly moving between various clinical settings and need to make several on-site trips, you will need an ultrasound device that can go wherever you go. In such cases, buying a portable ultrasound machine would be ideal.

Best Portable Ultrasound Machines in 2020

To give you a good understanding of some of the best ultrasound machines for sale, we’ve handpicked some of the top portable ultrasound systems to look for in 2020:

  1. Mindray M8 Elite
  2. GE Vivid iq
  3. Philips CX50
  4. Mindray M6
  5. GE Versana Active
  6. Sonosite Edge II
  7. Mindray DP-30
  8. GE LOGIQ V1
  9. Esaote MyLab Sigma

Each of these come with cutting edge technology, but also offer price variability to fit all types of budgets. Check out our recommendations for more information regarding different functionalities of each type of ultrasound machine:

Top Portable Ultrasound Machines to Look For in 2020

Finding the perfect machine to fit all your diagnostic needs is difficult, but with help from experts, you’ll be able to select an ultrasound system that caters to your unique needs. Contact National Ultrasound today to speak to one of our experts to help evaluate your requirements and direct you to a machine with the exact capabilities your practice needs. National Ultrasound carries a range of new and refurbished portable ultrasound machines from major reputable brands. So whether you’re looking for new or used/pre-owned ultrasound machines for sale, your search ends here!