Purchasing an ultrasound machine is a large investment for most small animal practices, therefore, it is paramount to carry out thorough research. Here are 5 important questions to help you make a more informed decision:
Q1. Does the ultrasound system come with veterinary specific presets?
Specific presets can be a major advantage in a veterinary application. They will minimise the amount of adjustments you need to make to acquire a great image.
For example, you can set up the system to look at a cat’s abdomen versus a dog’s heart and the algorithms behind the image will change appropriately. The optimal starting frequency, contrast, depth and focus settings will be set to give you a good starting point. Ask if a company representative can some and set up your own presets too, as every sonographer favours different settings.
Q2. Is the ultrasound system easy to use?
All ultrasound systems are different – and some easier to use than others. When trying the equipment, make sure you find it intuitive to use. Look at how easy it is to add patient details, adjust, freeze and save the image as well as retrieving this information when you are done.
Q3. Should my ultrasound system be portable?
Don’t be fooled into thinking bigger is better. Just think about how powerful laptops and mobile phones are these days. One significant advantage of portable ultrasound is that it is easy to move around. This means it can be put away when not in use or when space in the clinic is limited. The machine can also be shared between consult rooms or clinic branches. It also makes servicing easy as you can easily pack the machine and send it away. Of course, if you like it on wheels, most portable scanners can be optioned with a trolley also. And as we always say, “a trolley is a cheap insurance.”
Q4. How much should a small animal ultrasound system cost?
Budget is always something that is considered when purchasing any capital equipment. Black and white ultrasound systems can range from as little as $7,000 up to $14,000. Ultrasound scanners with optional softwares like Colour Doppler generally range from $14,000 right up to $100,000 or more. So when considering purchase of a scanner, you may want to decide whether or not you really need Colour Doppler…
Generally, the more you invest, the better the image quality you can achieve. The better the image quality, the easier it is to interpret the image. But don’t be fooled only by price – as we all know, technology is fast moving which makes last year’s technology breakthrough affordable for today’s general practice.
Q5. Which company should I choose when buying my ultrasound system?
Things to consider here are the benefits that are provided to a customer as a whole package.
- Support – Find a company with in-house service. See if they will provide loan systems if and when required to minimize any downtime.
- Wide range of products – We feel it is important to seek partners that offer a range of ultrasound systems so that you can find the one that specifically suits your needs.
- Training – It is important to seek partners that offer clinical training & resources so you can gain the skills necessary to get the best out of your investment.