Guide to Choosing the Best Portable Ultrasound Machine

Doctor uses the ‘best portable ultrasound machine’ to scan a patient.

Selecting the best portable ultrasound machine for your practice can be quite challenging, given the wide range of ultrasounds available in each category, from high-end trolley-based to portable and extremely small hand-held devices.

Portable Ultrasound Machines Overview

Portable ultrasound machines have found acceptance in a wide range of applications, including but not limited to OB/GYN, cardiology, anesthesiology & pain management, musculoskeletal, and emergency medicine. Most importantly, however, they have been responsible for transforming delivery across the healthcare industry and have impacted the healthcare process positively. Private practitioners, radiology, emergency departments, and others rely on portable ultrasound equipment to make a quick, reliable and accurate diagnosis.

Point-of-care is another area that has flourished with portable ultrasounds, with an increasing number of patients being diagnosed and treated at point-of-care. This has enabled prompt diagnoses and treatment, thereby improving mortality and patient satisfaction.

A rising number of healthcare professionals prefer portable ultrasound devices since these have eliminated the need to reserve valuable clinical space for bulky machines and are easily transportable, from one facility or room to another.

Portable Ultrasounds Flood the Market

Rising demand for portable ultrasounds and advances in ultrasound technology have contributed towards the development of smaller, more portable, and cheaper ultrasound equipment. In fact, portable ultrasounds today have excellent imaging capabilities that were once limited to bulkier and costlier machines. Hence, the good news is that one doesn’t have to compromise quality for a smaller or cheaper model anymore. However, with the increasing number of choices in this segment, it is easy to be overwhelmed when selecting the best portable ultrasound machine that is the right fit for your clinic and specialty.

Attributes to Consider for the Best Portable Ultrasound Machine

Clinical requirements vary and there is no single selection criterion that is applicable across all practices and applications. Consider the below-mentioned attributes to narrow your selection of the best portable ultrasound machine.

Age: Old vs. New – Older or pre-owned models cost much less than new models but are less advanced than new ones. Between the used and new machines lie refurbished machines, which are used machines that have been upgraded. In terms of functionality and performance, refurbished machines offer more value. However, if you’re a new user and want to simply test the market, you may consider buying a used ultrasound machine that is not too old or else it would be difficult to source replacement parts.

Functionality – Typically high-end machines use advanced imaging technologies to provide high functionality, which translates into more features and options. Although ultrasound machines in general, have advanced over the years, high-end machines provide high-end features, as compared to others. If you need to perform frequent scans or need advanced imaging with a high level of details, consider high-end or mid-range portable ultrasounds.

Portability – Size and weight are important parameters for portable ultrasounds. Based on the size, weight, and model type, portable ultrasound machines are divided into three categories: laptop-based, fold-down, and hand-held devices. Laptop-based and fold-down models have high-end features that are typically unavailable in hand-held devices.

Compatibility – Compatibility matters for all ultrasound machines, especially portable ones as you may need to connect these to other devices or software in your practice or when you’re traveling. For instance, you may need to connect the ultrasound to your tablet, mobile phone, laptop or any other device to view, share, and transfer images. Compatibility may be an issue, especially with older machines. Even newer machines are not compatible at times with other devices from the same brand. Therefore, it would be wise to factor compatibility while choosing the best portable ultrasound machine.

Price – Price ranks last on this list because when it comes to choosing the best portable ultrasound, cost should not be the driving factor. More important factors to consider are age, functionality, performance, portability, and compatibility. If the price is the deciding factor, you may end up with an ultrasound machine that doesn’t have all the required capabilities and features, impacting your practice.

However, it would be worthwhile to consider used and refurbished machines in the high-end or mid-range segments of portable ultrasound machines, if available. Additionally, demo machines (used for demonstration or training purposes at exhibitions or fairs by manufacturers or suppliers) are also an excellent alternative for high-end portable ultrasounds machines.

Portable Ultrasound Machines

Portable Ultrasound Machines can be divided into three categories based on their capability and price factor.

High-End Portable Ultrasound Machines

High-end portable ultrasound machines have an excellent computing power coupled with several options and features packed in a lightweight, compact device. These machines typically have advanced imaging capabilities and offer substantial benefits that justify their high cost. However, it isn’t easy to include advanced computing power into small, portable machines. Therefore, there isn’t a wide range of high-end portable ultrasound machines in the market. Some of the best portable ultrasound machines in this category are GE Vivid iq, GE Logiq eR7, Chison SonoBook 9, and the Philip portable ultrasound Philips CX50.

Here are a few features that are typically found in high-end portable ultrasounds:

  • Speckle Reduction Imaging for noise reduction
  • Needle Visualization
  • Advanced Compound Imaging for enhancing tissue interfaces and border differentiation
  • Family of transducers including single-crystal and high-performance linear probes, among others
  • Color Doppler
  • Auto image optimization for time efficiencies and ease of use
  • Auto IMT measurements for automatic image detection
  • Up-to-date system architecture
  • 15” LCD monitor, Solid State Hard Drive, and long-lasting batteries
  • Lightness and compactness for easy portability
  • 4D OB/GYN, Cardiac, and other applications
  • Full measurement and reporting packages

Mid-Range Portable Ultrasound Machines

The mid-range portable ultrasound machine segment has the widest variety of equipment, owing to its optimum mix of capability and price. Mid-range portable ultrasound machines provide excellent image quality and simplified workflow for efficiency. It provides quick diagnoses in several common scanning applications, albeit with limited features. This is an excellent alternative for private physicians and practitioners who are constantly on the go or those who need to move their portable ultrasounds from one room or clinic to another. Mid-range portables are also great as back-up systems for fulfilling high demand during peak hours.

Given their wide range of applications and price efficiency relative to high-end machines, these have gained popularity amongst private physicians, radiology departments, and hospitals, among others. Some of the best portable ultrasound machines in this category are GE Voluson i, Chison EBit 60, and SonoSite Edge.

Here are a few features that are typically found in mid-range portable ultrasounds:

  • Speckle Reduction Imaging for noise reduction
  • Tissue Doppler Imaging
  • Needle Visualization
  • Family of transducers includes high-performance linear probes
  • Color Doppler
  • Auto image optimization for time efficiencies and ease of use
  • Simplified workflow
  • Up-to-date system architecture
  • 15” LCD monitor and long-lasting batteries
  • Lightness and compactness for carrying ease
  • Full measurement and reporting packages

Economy Portable Ultrasound Machines

The economy range of portable ultrasound machines understandably has limited imaging capabilities and features, compared to the high or mid-range market. Nonetheless, these provide a satisfactory performance and are fit for applications that do not require advanced imaging. For instance, OB/GYN, general imaging, point-of-care, and veterinary applications have found a great use for economy portable ultrasound machines. Furthermore, these machines are also popular amongst practitioners who require alternative or back-up machines for two or more facilities. Additionally, practitioners who don’t need to conduct frequent ultrasound scanning or those who are simply testing the technology in their practice may consider the economy range of portable ultrasounds. A GE Logiq portable ultrasound – GE Logiq-e – is one of the best portable ultrasound machines available in this category.

Here are a few features that are typically found in economy portable ultrasounds:

  • Basic features
  • Speckle Reduction Imaging for noise reduction
  • Reasonably good 2D & Doppler image quality
  • Reasonable range of transducers
  • Image optimization and auto measurements not as advanced as high and mid-range
  • Lightness and compactness for carrying ease
  • Long lasting batteries
  • Limited measurement and reporting packages

Some of the Best Portable Ultrasound Machines

We have compiled some of the best portable ultrasound machines in the market along with some of their best features:

GE Logiq eR7

The GE Logiq eR7 is a high-end, high-performing GE portable ultrasound machine, perfect for physicians who need on-the-go diagnostic imaging for their patients. It is a light, collapsible laptop-based machine that is suitable for several applications such as, General Imaging, Musculoskeletal, Anesthesiology, Interventional, Emergency, Cardiology, Gastroenterology, OB-GYN, Urology, and Vascular. One of the best ultrasound portable machines, the eR7 produces ultrasound imaging with precise anatomical detail.

Some of its features are:

  • Needle Recognition Software Option for accurately revealing the structure of a needle within the anatomy and adjusting needle gain and angle
  • CrossXbeam, Speckle Reduction Imaging, and Coded Harmonic Imaging for advanced imaging
  • Scanning modes: B-mode, M-mode, anatomical M-mode, color flow mode, power Doppler imaging, pulsed wave Doppler, and Ophthalmic
  • Wideband linear probes, phased array, and C1-5-RS convex probes, among others

Mindray M8 Elite

One of the best portable ultrasound machines, the Mindray M8 Elite is a fully shared service portable ultrasound system and includes a full suite of transducers. It can be used in Vascular, Urology, Cardiology, OBGYN, Abdominal, Anesthesia, and other critical care environments.

Some of its features are:

  • 3T Transducer with Single Crystal technology for sharper images, better penetration, and improved spatial resolution
  • Spatial Compounding Imaging and Speckle Suppression Imaging
  • mQuadro – new generation ultrasound platform
  • High Dynamic Range Color Flow Doppler
  • Tissue Doppler Imaging
  • 8 user-defined function keys for Streamlined Workflow
  • Better Doppler sensitivity at a wide, linear steerable angle

Mindray Z6

The Mindray Z6 is an affordable, portable Doppler ultrasound machine that demonstrates an ideal combination of image enhancing technologies and convenient workflow applications. It’s used in various application including but not limited to Emergency Medicine, Family Practice, Gastroenterology, Neurology, OB-GYN, and Orthopedics.

Some of its features are:

  • Spatial Compounding Imaging, Phase Shift Harmonic Imaging, and Adaptive Speckle Suppression Imaging
  • Auto-optimization, Auto Intima-Media Thickness, and DICOM 3.0
  • 15” high definition LCD with a tilt display, dual universal transducer connectors, and pulse wave Doppler
  • Phased array probe, which is hard to find at this price range and quality.

Our Expertise in Selecting the Best Portable Ultrasound Machine

Our National Ultrasound experts can help you choose the best portable ultrasound machine that is a perfect fit for your practice. They help you sort through your requirements and options and fit you with exactly what you need at a great price.

Contact a National Ultrasound professional today to help find the answer to ‘what is the best portable ultrasound machine’ for your practice. Or click the ‘Get a Quote’ button to get started finding the ultrasound machine perfect for your practice.