How to Choose the Best Portable Ultrasound for Your Needs: Comparing Manufacturers and Models for 2018
JANUARY 30, 2018 BY BRIAN GILL
Take ultrasound imaging on-the-go by finding the best portable system for your clinical needs and budget.
They’re the size of a laptop, weigh less than a bowling ball, and they bring reliable imaging to patients while simultaneously offering greater imaging comfort and ease-of-use to you.
Portable ultrasounds have become a popular option for physicians in diverse practices and clinics. From OB/GYN and cardiac to emergency medicine, orthopedic, point-of-care, and more, a quality portable ultrasound at your side allows you to bring advanced imaging straight to the patient.
With new and refurbished portable ultrasounds from Providian Medical, you no longer have to compromise quality for size, performance, and price. In this post, you’ll gain insight into how to match your clinical needs and budget with the ideal portable system.
The Providian Way for Refurbishing Portable Ultrasounds
Major areas of consideration when buying a portable ultrasound include size, weight, and technological performance. But let’s be honest—price matters, and for many private practitioners and clinics, refurbished portable ultrasounds serve as an affordable imaging solution.
We understand you want your portable ultrasound to look and perform like new, exactly to the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s (OEM) specifications.
Before Refurbishing Begins
To assure a like-new level of reliability and performance, our refurbishing process begins with locating and completely inspecting the used ultrasound system.
Our strict pre-purchase inspection allows us to select only the best mid-life ultrasounds for refurbishing. Heavily used and poorly maintained systems are typically avoided. Certified engineers carefully inspect and de-install the ultrasound, safely getting the ultrasound to our headquarters for refurbishing.
Step 1: Initial Cursory Check-in
After selecting the best ultrasounds for a complete cosmetic and technical refurbishing, the next step is to perform an initial cursory check-in and document any cosmetic issues or obvious repair needs.
Step 2: Ultrasound Software and Hardware Diagnostics
As part of the diagnostics, our experienced engineers review error logs and execute extended tests.
We then dismantle all major components, check for cracks or swelling, perform a complete electrical inspection, and thoroughly inspect all of the ultrasound accessories, including printers, filters, keyboards, and others parts.
Step 3: Ultrasound Refurbishing Conclusion
The check-in and diagnostic tests will give us the necessary information to determine if the system is OK for refurbishing and resale, or if the ultrasound should be disassembled for its working parts.
Step 4: Cosmetic and Diagnostic Tests on Transducers
To guarantee our transducers, we perform complete cosmetic and diagnostic tests using a diagnostic ultrasound transducer phantom. This helps us determine whether the probes are within OEM specifications for resale.
Step 5: Documentation and System Assignments
The last pre-refurbishing step is to document all findings and assign the portable ultrasound for refurbishing, repair, or parts inventory.
Refurbishing the Portable Ultrasound
As you may have noticed, complete inspections and diagnostics are critical parts of the refurbishing process. Acquiring extensive information about the pre-owned ultrasound also allows us to confidently replace defective and out-of-date parts with new or remanufactured parts guaranteed to meet OEM specifications.
In terms of physical refurbishing, the process begins with a professional cleaning. We clean and sand the interior and exterior of the ultrasound, and then repair any imperfections. The next step is to sterilize and repaint the system shell.
Lastly, we thoroughly test and calibrate the ultrasound and perform a complete electrical check. Errors are cleared and filter service meters are reset, and then the ultrasound is pre-staged and functionally tested before another pre-shipment inspection and certification.
At Providian Medical, we take the ultrasound refurbishing process very seriously, and we guarantee that every refurbished portable system meets or exceeds the OEM specifications. With our thorough and extensive refurbishing process, every ultrasound we sell is delivered to your facility ready to scan patients upon installation.
Choosing a Refurbished Portable Ultrasound for Your Clinical Needs
Due to improvements in rugged design, image processing, and probe technology, among others advancements, portable ultrasounds have found a wide variety of intended uses in practices across the United States.
As a result of their widespread usage, you can find portable ultrasounds ranging from the high-end systems packing an enormous amount of power to handheld ultrasounds about the size of an iPhone.
Even with the seemingly overwhelming variety of systems available, finding the ideal system for your needs and budget can be simple. By matching how you intend to use a portable ultrasound with the various types available, you can get a headstart at narrowing down the choices.
Portable ultrasound machines can be used in nearly any medical situation where space (and, in some cases, time) is limited. Because of their impressive mobility, portable ultrasounds are also inherently suited for when you need to scan patients bedside (instead of making patients come to you), in the field, or when having an ultrasound on-the-go is important.
For these reasons, coupled with the affordable price point, OB/GYN doctors were some of the first medical professionals to adopt portable ultrasounds in their practices. Other medical fields where portable ultrasound usage was found to be highly beneficial include:
Because of the improved image quality, the fastest growing market for portable ultrasound in recent years include emergency medicine, anesthesiology/pain management, critical care medicine, and musculoskeletal (MSK). Portable and handheld ultrasound usage in these fields has also substantially grown in recent years.
Types of Portable Ultrasound Machines
Whether providing a cardiac diagnosis on a stretcher-bound patient or performing a pregnancy scan, how you use a portable ultrasound is critical to the type of system you should get. Equally important, however, is knowing which type of ultrasound will match these needs.
Three categories of portable ultrasound machines include:
- Laptop ultrasounds
- Fold-down ultrasounds
- Handheld, Tablet, or hand-operated ultrasound
As you can imagine, weight and size are defining factors among portable ultrasounds. Laptop systems, for instance, have an average 13- to 15-inch monitor and often weigh between 7 and 14 pounds.
Fold-Down portable ultrasounds are similar to laptop-style ones; however, they have two transducer ports, weigh 10-20 pounds, and the keyboard folds down from the vertical position. These are ideal for situations where more than one transducer is used on a regular basis, such as OB/GYN or cardiovascular. Reducing the need to change probes often results in a more efficient scan and eliminates potential damage from frequent probe changing or dropped probes.
Handheld or hand-carried systems, on the other hand, typically weigh less than a pound and include a viewing monitor that’s about the size of a tablet screen.
The size of the portable ultrasound is also indicative of its performance and advanced capabilities. Ultrasound imaging technology has become smaller over the years, but the more high-end features (detailed below) can only fit in the laptop or fold-down systems.
Find a Portable Ultrasound for Your Needs and Budget
After deciding you want a refurbished portable ultrasound for intended clinical purposes, and have found the right type of ultrasound, the next step is to start searching for a balance between needs and budget.
Examining key features can help you leverage cost with performance. To make the search a little easier, you can break up the various brands and manufacturers of portable ultrasounds into several categories. These categories include:
Generally, higher frequency and faster processing are features found in the highest priced ultrasounds, but when it comes to imaging performance, some key features to look for include:
- Updated system architecture
- Improved near-field resolution
- Better image quality for deeper tissue
- Doppler sensitivity and spectral quality
- Compound Imaging
- Speckle Reduction Imaging
- Lightweight design with longer battery life
- Wide availability of transducers
- Image optimization and auto measurement features
- Automation and simple workflows
- High-resolution LCD monitor around 15 inches
- High frame rates (particularly for cardiac imaging)
- Cardiac imaging modes, such as:
- Tissue Doppler Imaging
- Strain Imaging
- Stress echo
- CW Doppler
- Workflow efficiency features such as auto image optimization, auto color, and Doppler
- Full measurement and reporting packages
- Structured Reporting
- HDLive or Virtual HD for OB/GYN 4D imaging
- And others
In the following paragraphs, you can find the key features associated with the various categories of portable ultrasounds available.
What to Look for in a High-End Portable Ultrasound Machine
Adopting a high-end portable ultrasound often means justifying the higher price point with the value the portable system offers to your clinic. For 2018, the range of high-end portable ultrasound machines include features such as:
Premium imaging performance
- Excellent image quality, advanced quantification, and streamlined workflow
- 4D echo and transesophageal echocardiography (TEE)
- Automatic image optimization (one-touch image optimization)
- Advanced Compound Imaging technology
- Ability to virtually eliminate speckle noise
- Enhanced image border definition
- Continuous image optimization
- Single crystal probes, and high-performance linear probes
- Intelligent Doppler
- Solid State Hard Drive
- AutoIMT measurements
- 4D OB/GYN imaging with Virtual HD or HDLive
- Needle visualization
What to Look for in a Mid-Range Portable Ultrasound Machine
A mid-range portable ultrasound is defined by its quick diagnosis in the majority of common scans. Due to their quality system performance combined with a reasonable price, most hospital and radiology departments, as well as private practices, use mid-range portable ultrasounds across a wide variety of clinical applications. As a result, you can find the widest variety of ultrasounds machines in this category.
Some features of a mid-range portable ultrasound include:
- Slim and lightweight design
- Adult cardiac and pediatric cardiac probes
- 4D modes
- Streamlined processes
- Automatic optimization
- Tissue Doppler imaging
- One-touch image optimization
- Needle Visualization
What to Look for in an Economy Portable Ultrasound Machine
Though lacking in advanced technologies, an economy portable ultrasound provides an optimal compromise of price and performance. These are the most popular systems because of their affordability. Our most common customers for the Economy ultrasound systems are introducing ultrasound to their practice, have limited use for advanced technologies (such as general imaging or basic OB/GYN imaging), veterinary, and point-of-care needs.
Some features of an economy portable ultrasound include:
- Dedicated measurements for point-of-care applications
- OB/GYN, MSK, and general imaging
- Good image quality with speckle reduction and image compounding
- Rugged exteriors and keyboard design
- Auto Optimization
The size of a small tablet and often featuring a touchscreen interface, handheld ultrasounds are very popular among emergency departments, bedside monitoring, quick visualizations, and anatomy and fluid measurements.
Want to know more about the different handheld ultrasounds? Below are some of our most popular models:
Portable Ultrasound Probes
Portable ultrasound probes, in general, do not differ from the probes you find on standard console ultrasound machines. The main difference is the size of the connector, which is smaller on portable ultrasounds. However, the availability of higher-end technology probes, such as single-crystal, 4D cardiac, and advanced elastography. Such high-end technologies are typically found on premium console ultrasounds and trickle down to portable ultrasound after a few years.
The frequency of your probes is inversely proportional to the probe’s depth. A good rule of thumb is that higher frequency probes (10 to 16 MHz) offer more superficial imaging. Lower frequency probes (2 to 5 MHz) allow a deeper probe penetration.
How Much Does a Portable Ultrasound Cost?
Just like their full-sized counterparts, portable ultrasounds vary widely in price. In general, the average cost of a refurbished portable ultrasound ranges from around $3,000 to $20,000. Some of the more high-end models can cost upwards of $50,000.
With Providian Medical, you can find affordable prices for our refurbished systems. For instance, the GE Logiq e BT12 is listed at $34,900, but this popular, fully loaded shared-service model only costs $19,000 when buying from us.
Not sure if you’re ready to purchase an ultrasound? Whether testing different models or seeing if ultrasound imaging is profitable for your practice, renting is an affordable option with ultrasounds starting around $500 a month.
Compare Top Portable Ultrasound Machines
From Sonosite to Mindray, Chison to GE, there are several ultrasound manufacturers offering a variety of portable models. Make your search even easier by checking out these top portable ultrasound machines for 2018:
GE Logiq e
The GE Logiq e is one of the most popular mid-range, laptop-sized portable ultrasounds available. It balances shared-service capabilities with features and price, offering exceptional imaging performance for:
Weighing about 11.5 pounds and featuring a durable, rugged shell, the GE Logiq e is designed for confidence and easy portability.
You can view images on the 15-inch, rotatable LCD monitor and then transfer the patient data to an external hard drive, network, flash drive, and DVD.
In terms of imaging performance, the GE Logiq e ultrasound uses top imaging technologies including GE’s TruScan architecture, Power Doppler Imaging (PDI), panoramic images up to 60cm, and SmartScan and ComfortScan technologies, among others.
Chison EBit 60
Designed to bring powerful cardiovascular capabilities to your clinic, the Chison EBit 60 is an ultra-light, full-body portable ultrasound machine with cutting-edge image optimization technologies.
This compact machine weighs about 16 pounds and enhances imaging with Compound Imaging, Speckle Reduction Imaging, AutoIMT, Automatic Image Optimization, easy connectivity, and prospective saving. As a result, you can achieve high-definition, accurate images for a wide range of clinical applications, including:
- Small parts
GE Voluson i
Many physicians, sonographers, and others find the GE Voluson i to be one of the best portable systems on the market today. It was one of the first to offer 4D ultrasound imaging, enables fetal heart and volume imaging, and allows several imaging automation features.
The GE Voluson i weighs just 11 pounds, making one of the lighter laptop-sized systems available. Additionally, with its options for battery-powered usage or full-time AC power, the Voluson i is ideal for both fixed exam rooms as well as emergency and point-of-care applications.
The M-Turbo is SonoSite’s most versatile portable ultrasound. Offering striking image quality, drop-tested durability, and advanced applications, the M-Turbo enables reliable, high-resolution imaging for:
- Venous access
- Superficial imaging
The M-Turbo’s lightweight magnesium case, battery-powered performance, and wireless capabilities make it a portable solution in point-of-care and intensive care situations, as well as other specific situations.
With regards to its imaging technology, the SonoSite M-Turbo comes with a lot of options, including advanced needle visualization software, compound imaging, auto IMT, harmonics, color and power Doppler, PW/CW Doppler, and duplex imaging.
Combining B/W Doppler with a range of advanced echocardiography features, the Chison ECO3 serves as an excellent diagnostic tool. Aside from its imaging features, some of the key benefits of this portable ultrasound include its streamlined workflow, an intelligent keyboard layout for easy operation, and a 12-inch, rotatable LED monitor with a wide viewing angle.
No matter if you’re using the Chison ECO3 for abdominal, OB/GYN, small parts, vascular, pediatrics, urology, cardiology, or MSK, this ultrasound improves your imaging capabilities with the following technologies:
- Tissue Harmonic Imaging
- Trapezoid Imaging
- I-image optimization software
- Speckle Reduction Algorithm
- Compound Technology
- Multiple measurement software packages
When saving, transferring, and managing images, the Chison ECO3 allows up to 320GB of storage. Additionally, this ultrasound is DICOM 3 compatible, it includes three USB ports, and it has dual a probe port for transducers.
GE VScan Dual-Probe Handheld
The GE VScan dual-probe is a pocket-sized ultrasound that enables immediate visual validation from the palm of your hand. As a general purpose diagnostic tool, the GE VScan stands out for its dual-port housing that allows two transducers in one probe.
This innovative probe features phased and linear array transducers and it is always connected and ready for many applications.
Additionally, with its simplified, thumb-controlled user-interface and minimized number of keys, the GE VScan also enables precise imaging for primary, critical, or specialty care. A single charge provides up to an hour of continuous scanning, and two easily swappable batteries can extend your imaging possibility throughout the day.
Call Providian Medical for Purchasing Your Portable Ultrasound
Their size, portability, and affordability have made portable ultrasound systems a popular choice for private practitioners, radiology and emergency departments, and many others.
When looking for the ideal portable ultrasound for your needs, combining the ideal balance of price and performance, it can help to have an expert guide you through the different manufacturers and models. For a consultation, call Providian Medical today at (877) 661-8224.