Tips for Selecting the Best Ultrasound Machine for Your Veterinary Practice

A dog is administered an ultrasound in a veterinarian's office.

A cat receives an ultrasound at a veterinarian clinic.

If you’re considering equipping your veterinary clinic with an ultrasound machine, you’re on the right path. The right ultrasound equipment can prove to be a valuable asset, boosting your veterinary practice by helping you provide quality and timely care to your furry patients.

Earlier veterinarians relied heavily on MRI and CT scan machines for diagnoses. However, these are extremely bulky and have many safety considerations and guidelines owing to their harmful radiation, limiting their availability to a few specialized facilities. On the other hand, ultrasound machines are easily accessible and safe. In addition, there are many other pros of using ultrasound in veterinary practice, such as convenience, accuracy, cost-efficiency, and ease-of-use, making it one of the most preferred diagnostic tools for veterinarians.

Furthermore, rapid advances in ultrasound technology have led to increasingly portable, compact, and easy-to-use machines that provide high-quality imaging, making them a suitable choice for veterinary practices. Moreover, in comparison to X-rays, ultrasound machines help doctors easily visualize soft tissues and even distinguish fluids from other masses. This has led to more and more veterinarians commonly using ultrasound for their day-to-day diagnoses as well as other ultrasound-guided procedures and therapies.

What is the Best Veterinary Ultrasound Machine for your Clinic?

A dog is administered an ultrasound in a veterinarian's office.

Selecting the right ultrasound machine that closely matches your clinical needs is crucial in order to reap the maximum benefits. Whether you’re looking to purchase ultrasound equipment for the first time or simply upgrade your existing system, we recommend conducting thorough research to make an optimal choice. After all, the purchase of an ultrasound machine requires a significant financial investment.

To help you in your search for the best veterinary ultrasound machine, we’ve outlined some tips and factors that will assist you in making an informed decision. To further supplement your research, you may also refer to some veterinary ultrasound machine reviews to learn about the performance of specific ultrasound machines, if desired.

Probes for Small Animal Practice

A probe is the part of the scanner that needs to be applied against the area that is to be examined, making it a crucial and sensitive part simultaneously as it images the organ that needs to be visualized. Therefore, it is understandably one of the most important parameters to consider in your deliberation on the best veterinary ultrasound machine.

The best ultrasound probe for your practice depends on the type of patients you evaluate.  Different animals require different probes.  Cats and small dogs would need a different probe than a large dog, for example.  Regardless of the type of patients, however, if you’re buying an ultrasound machine for the first time, opt for a micro-convex probe with a frequency between 3 MHz and 9 MHz, as this is a minimum requirement for every veterinary practice[1]. This type of probe can also be used to scan a small animal’s heart. For scanning animals’ hearts, another good choice is a phased array probe, which allows enhanced visualization.

With time, as your requirements and budget increase, you can add the phased array probe and other types to cover more uses and even varieties of our four-legged friends. Generally speaking, probes with a small radius are best suited for small animals. In addition, if cats are your most frequent patients, opt for a high-frequency linear probe for excellent resolution whereas probes with greater tissue penetration are an excellent choice for larger dogs. Lastly, for scanning large animals, such as giant breed dogs, you may even utilize probes meant for humans as these have a large radius.

Basic or Advanced Functionality

Another parameter worth considering is the type of diagnostic functions you would require daily. Will you be requiring basic ultrasound diagnostic imaging or advanced imaging for detecting abnormalities in the functioning of heart valves?

Would you be conducting diagnostic tests on the field or in your clinic? If you evaluate large animals on the field, perhaps you may opt for a refurbished machine to prevent your new equipment from being subjected to wear and tear.

In addition, would a black-and-white ultrasound machine suffice your diagnostic needs, or would a color Doppler machine fit best? Most practices can survive with black-and-white ultrasound equipment as they are starting out with this functionality.  Initially, they would mostly require basic diagnostic capabilities for say, abdominal scanning for examining fetuses. On the other hand, with color Doppler ultrasounds, you can even conduct advanced cardiac scanning, as these enable you to assess and measure the speed of blood flow, for instance. Color Doppler imaging is also used for guiding interventional procedures, such as injections and biopsies.

Another consideration is whether you be requiring DICOM connectivity or archive data management for sending images or transferring them to another device. In that case, you may need to opt for these additional features.

Preloaded Veterinary Specific Presets

Some ultrasound machines have predetermined presets while others allow practitioners to adjust them based on their requirements. Choosing a veterinary ultrasound machine that comes with pre-loaded veterinary specific presets would make your job easier by streamlining your workflow.

Presets optimize workflow by enabling fast and easy scanning as they require minimal adjustment between two different scans, or in simpler terms, between scanning one type of organ and another. Presets have a mechanism to automatically change the algorithms for imaging by selecting the right depth, contrast, frequency, and focus, based on the organ that is being visualized.

Therefore, if you’re scanning, for instance, a small animal’s heart in one moment and another’s abdomen to locate an ingested foreign object in the next, you will be able to do so with minimum adjustments between the two scans and with clear imaging.

Ease-of-Use

During peak times, it’s exceptionally helpful to have an ultrasound machine that contributes towards work efficiencies and eases the workload. It should include an easy patient information management system to quickly add, retrieve, and modify patient details with appropriate notes. Moreover, it should have easy to use interfaces to enable fast and easy scanning.

In addition, among other things, it should have a scanner that requires minimum starting time; this is especially relevant in veterinary practice as it may be slightly challenging to make animals lie still for too long, while the scanner is firing up. Lastly, the equipment should also allow practitioners to save images in the preferred file formats of their choice.

Portability

Portability is a convenient attribute to have in a veterinary ultrasound machine. Animals tend to become restless and move about in a room, which may create situations in which practitioners need to carry the scanning equipment to where they are located or where they feel comfortable, especially if they are too sick to move. Additionally, if you evaluate patients in both settings, clinic and in-field, you may opt for portable ultrasound equipment with a long-lasting battery.

Ideally, it would be good to opt for compact, lightweight, and portable ultrasound machines. In addition, today portable ultrasounds provide the same high-quality imaging that was earlier associated with bulkier machines. Another plus is that portable ultrasounds are less noisy compared to others, which is another important factor for veterinary equipment as noisy machines tend to scare small animals and make them restless.

Cost

Amongst the factors that influence the search for the best veterinary ultrasound machine for your practice, the cost is naturally one of the most important. The good news is that ultrasound machines come in various price ranges so you can find one that suits your budgetary range. However, it’s extremely important to ensure that, in the quest for a low-cost machine, quality is not compromised. Often, high-priced ultrasound equipment provides better imaging, which in turn leads to a more accurate and confident diagnosis. The good news, however, is that these days, even color Doppler systems are not as expensive as before.

Regardless of the system you opt for, consider additional costs for add-on options, warranty costs (which naturally cost extra, especially comprehensive or long-term warranties), and additional transducer probes, among others. Lastly, the costs will vary depending upon whether you buy a brand-new or refurbished model, or whether you purchase the equipment with monthly payments or by making a lump sum, or whether you lease the equipment.

Reliable Supplier or Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)

It’s highly recommended to select a supplier or manufacturer that offers a range of ultrasound equipment, so you have a wide variety of good-quality branded equipment to choose from. Furthermore, the ideal supplier offers ultrasound machines from various reputable brands and in different price ranges, giving you the latitude to choose one that meets your clinical as well as budgetary requirements.

In addition, if the supplier provides service, maintenance, and repair services, it’s a bonus as they can help you take good care of your machine, making it last in the long-term, and consequently ease your workload and stress. Lastly, look for a supplier that has the provision to ship replacement parts or supplies as early as possible, if required, to ensure that any technical glitch doesn’t stall your practice, preventing downtime and any loss of business resulting from it.

National Ultrasound for all Your Veterinary Needs

We hope the points above assist you in your search for the best veterinary ultrasound machine for your practice. Investing in the best veterinary ultrasound machine can substantially improve the quality and timeliness of healthcare for your furry patients, who are completely reliant on you to make the right diagnoses, given that they cannot communicate their pains.

If you haven’t already equipped your practice with the right ultrasound machine or if you want an upgrade for your existing equipment, contact National Ultrasound today to speak to one of our representatives who are skilled in evaluating your requirements and fitting you with exactly what you need.

National Ultrasound offers a wide range of trolley-based and portable ultrasounds, including Mindray M6. Lastly, we carry machines from all major manufacturers and in every price range so you can find the machine that perfectly matches your requirements.

 

References:

https://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/ultrasound-advice/

https://ivcjournal.com/purchasing-veterinary-ultrasound-system/

[1] https://www.veterinarypracticenews.com/ultrasound-advice/