A puppy’s belly is being scanned with an ultrasound at a veterinary clinic.

A Guide to Finding the Best Veterinary Ultrasound Machine for Your Budget

: A close-up image of a veterinarian performing an ultrasound scan on a cat.

Equipping your clinic with a veterinary ultrasound machine is the first step towards a more accurate and prompt diagnosis, facilitating an easier and speedier recovery for your furry patients. Or maybe you already have an ultrasound system and want to upgrade it to better manage your diagnostic requirements. Either way, choosing the right machine for your budget is easier said than done.

The increasing demand for ultrasound imaging has led to the availability of a broad span of ultrasound machines that cater to a variety of requirements in terms of capabilities, features, applications, technology, imaging type, and budget, among many other aspects. Add to this diverse collection, the comprehensive array of machines available in varying sizes and portability levels, ranging from cart-based and portable machines to laptop-based devices and small hand-held scanners and the permutations and combinations of available equipment increase exponentially.

The wide extent of equipment options available can be confounding, making it slightly challenging to zero in on the right machine for your budget. So, to assist in your search, we’ve compiled a guide that answers basic questions like ‘what attributes should drive your purchase decision’ and ‘how much does a veterinary ultrasound machine cost?’.

Let’s get started then!

Factors Affecting the Cost of Veterinary Ultrasound Machines

A puppy’s belly is being scanned with an ultrasound at a veterinary clinic.

  1. Imaging Capability

The imaging capability and features of your ultrasound equipment should ideally drive your purchase decision. You don’t want to unnecessarily pay an exorbitant amount for a high-end ultrasound machine with advanced capabilities to cover your basic scanning needs.

For instance, if the majority of ultrasound testing you conduct is abdominal scanning for monitoring the development of fetuses, an ultrasound machine with basic capabilities should suffice. In contrast, if you plan on conducting cardiac scanning, you’re better off getting an ultrasound with advanced imaging capabilities such as Doppler or Duplex ultrasound (a combination of Doppler with regular ultrasound). Understandably, advanced ultrasound machines for cardiac imaging and other advanced applications are priced higher than basic devices.

Along the same lines, if you need to conduct specialized diagnostic tests, you don’t want to buy basic equipment only to realize that it doesn’t fully cover your needs, compelling you to upgrade immediately after your first purchase. Therefore, evaluating your diagnostic needs is crucial in selecting the right machine at the right price.

Speaking of veterinary ultrasound machine price, the comprehensive variety of functionality and features available in the market today has led to an extremely wide price range, with machines available for almost every budget. As a result, even small portable ultrasound machines can range from $2,000 all the way to $50,000, depending on the brand and functionality.

Depending on your practice’s requirements, you can choose one that is neither too advanced nor too basic for your needs. Therefore, if you’re buying an ultrasound for the first time, it’d be better to start with a good quality ultrasound machine with moderate capabilities that can cost anywhere between $15000 and 35,000. However, for specialized diagnostic tests or cardiology scanning, a portable ultrasound machine with a high level of capability can range between $40,000 and $100,000.

It’s important to remember that refurbished ultrasound machines are a good option if you have budget constraints initially. These cost at least 40 percent less than brand-new ones. However, refurbished machines are typically not available for low-range models as the cost of refurbishing them is usually as much as the price of a brand-new model of the same type or higher.

    1. Transducers

While ultrasound machine costs vary significantly depending on the type and capability, it could vary more depending on the type and number of probes you add to the system. On average, each transducer costs around $1500 or more, depending on its capability. Once again, the cost range greatly varies, with basic probes costing as little as $500 and advanced ones costing as much as $15,000. Hence, if you add a family of transducers to your console system, it can significantly increase the total cost.

For low to moderate level diagnostic requirements, you may opt for a high-quality portable system with one transducer, which can cost between $15,000 and $20,000. For more advanced diagnostics, an advanced ultrasound system with multiple transducers may be a better fit. Depending on the number of probes you add, the price could increase to $200,000 or more.

Typically, the basic requirement of all veterinary clinics is a micro-convex transducer that is perfect for scanning small animals such as dogs and cats. Large curved array transducers can be used to scan large patients like horses and giant breed dogs. For veterinary cardiac applications, phased array transducers tend to work best.

  1. Maintenance, Warranty, and Replacement Parts

Additional factors such as warranty and maintenance support, impact the veterinary ultrasound machine price too. Some suppliers and manufacturers provide a comprehensive warranty while others do not, which naturally affects the pricing. Conduct thorough research with regards to the type and length of support that is included in the purchase price.

Furthermore, also inquire whether the supplier or manufacturer stocks sufficient replacement parts or provides temporary replacement machines, free of charge, to prevent downtime. Typically, maintenance support is priced at approximately 15 percent of the purchase price.

  1. Training

Lastly, training should not be overlooked, especially if you’re buying an ultrasound system for the first time. The purchase of new ultrasound machines includes a complete training protocol that covers a description of the system along with its features and functionalities. Additional training, however, is priced over and above the machine price and could run up to $1,000 or more, depending on your requirements.

  1. Additional Costs

A common budgeting mistake is considering only the upfront machine costs. It would be wise to budget for additional costs such as delivery or cost of the printer or additional features. Doing so can prevent unpleasant surprises later. Delivery costs may run between $250 and $400, depending on the distance, while a printer can typically cost approx. $2,000.

  1. Human Ultrasound Systems for Veterinary Needs

Dr. Drew Sullivan, Medical Director of the Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois states in the Innovative Veterinary Care (IVC) Journal that human systems can also be used as ultrasounds in veterinary practice, as long as these are used with the right probes. He further explains that human ultrasounds perform the same functions and differ primarily only in terms of their software and presets when compared to veterinary models. Finally, he states that human systems in fact provide clearer and more clinically correct images and also come with a wider selection of probes.

With regards to pricing, although it is commonly perceived that human ultrasound systems cost more than veterinary equipment, one can always opt for refurbished or pre-owned human systems that can significantly reduce the investment.

National Ultrasound Machines for Your Veterinary Practice

We hope our tips will assist you in your search for the right veterinary ultrasound machine for your practice and budget. Be sure to consider all factors before arriving at a decision. If you’re still unsure about which machine to opt for, contact National Ultrasound to speak to one of our experts. They are highly skilled in evaluating your requirements to fit you with exactly what you need and to stay within your specified budget. We look forward to hearing from you!