How To Choose the Right Portable Ultrasound Machine: 10 Factors to Consider

Portable ultrasound machines have revolutionized medical diagnostics, offering numerous advantages over traditional, stationary systems. From increased accessibility and convenience to enhanced diagnostic capabilities in remote and emergency settings, these compact devices are transforming the healthcare landscape. Here, we delve into the key benefits of using portable ultrasound machines.

Just over 30% of ultrasound unit failures are due to software, and just over 40% are related to hardware issues. Overall, the biggest fault of any ultrasound (US) machine is the issues with the probe/transducer used by the machine.

Probe-cable compatibility and connectivity issues are the most common problems associated with ultrasound machines. While these problems aren’t always foreseeable, the type of portable ultrasound machine, its features, and the coverage you have for it are.

Practices want a simple yet reliable way to choose a portable ultrasound machine. With advancements in technology, from contrast-enhanced imaging and workflow automation to AI, the market is flooded with options, making it challenging to select the best option for your practice.

US scans are among the top three most-used modalities, and while these machines are highly used, it is possible to choose the wrong type.

 

What Is a Portable Ultrasound Machine, and What Are Its Benefits?

Portable ultrasound machines, also known as point-of-care ultrasounds (POCUS), offer a world of benefits. These compact and lightweight devices use high-frequency sound waves to produce real-time images, revolutionizing the way providers work and improving patient care. 

When considering a portable ultrasound machine, whether for home use or a clinic setting, it’s important to remember the potential it holds. These machines are ideal for emergencies, provide better mobility for travel, and most importantly, offer the ability to achieve faster and more accurate diagnosis, empowering healthcare professionals in their practice.

Benefits of Using Portable Ultrasound Machine

Benefits Portable Ultrasound Machine

Increased Accessibility and Convenience

One of the most significant benefits of portable ultrasound machines is their enhanced accessibility and convenience. These devices are small and portable, making them suitable for use in hospitals, clinics, ambulances, and remote areas.

Doctors can now do imaging tests at the hospital. This means that healthcare providers do not have to move patients. Doctors can diagnose and treat patients faster.

  • Portable ultrasound machines let healthcare providers do imaging at the patient’s bedside, in homes, or in field conditions. This is helpful when moving the patient is not safe or possible.
  • Time Efficiency: Immediate access to diagnostic imaging means quicker decision-making and treatment initiation, improving overall patient outcomes.
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Enhanced Diagnostic Capabilities in Remote and Emergency Settings

Portable ultrasound machines are invaluable in remote and emergency settings, where access to traditional diagnostic equipment is often limited. Healthcare professionals use these devices to take real-time images. These images are important for making quick and accurate diagnoses in urgent situations.

  • During emergencies such as accidents or natural disasters, portable ultrasound machines assist first responders in rapidly evaluating injuries and conditions. This allows for immediate administration of medical treatment.
  • Remote Healthcare: In rural or underserved areas, portable ultrasound machines bring essential diagnostic capabilities to communities without access to advanced medical technology. This ensures patients receive the necessary care without traveling long distances to equipped facilities.

Cost-Effectiveness Compared to Traditional Machines

Another significant advantage of portable ultrasound machines is their cost-effectiveness. While traditional ultrasound systems require substantial financial investment and infrastructure, portable models offer a more affordable solution without compromising diagnostic quality.

  • Portable ultrasound machines are less expensive than stationary systems. This makes them a good option for smaller clinics and healthcare providers on a budget.
  • Lower Costs: Mobile devices eliminate the need for special rooms or transportation. This reduction in operational expenses helps to save money.
  • Portable ultrasound machines are easy to maintain. They also have lower upkeep costs. This makes them a more affordable option in the long run.

Improved Patient Care and Outcomes

The use of portable ultrasound machines significantly enhances patient care and outcomes. These devices help doctors diagnose faster and more accurately, leading to better treatment for patients.

  • Quick access to diagnostic imaging helps healthcare providers quickly identify and treat medical conditions, reducing complications and speeding up recovery.
  • Patient Comfort: Conducting ultrasounds at the point of care minimizes patient discomfort and anxiety associated with transportation to imaging facilities. Patients can receive care in a familiar and comfortable environment.
  • Portable ultrasound machines help doctors monitor patients regularly, especially for chronic conditions and pregnancy care. This ensures patients get consistent and thorough care.

Portable ultrasound machines offer many advantages in healthcare. You can easily use them and take them anywhere. They help doctors make better diagnoses in remote or emergency, saving money and improving patient outcomes. As technology improves, portable ultrasound machines will likely become even more important in medical care.

10 Key Factors to Consider When Buying a Portable Ultrasound Machine

Buying a Portable Ultrasound MachineFinding the best portable ultrasound machine for your practice depends on your specialty. After outlining why you need the machine, you can narrow your search by considering ten key factors.

1. The Diagnostic Uses Intended for the Machine

Practices should clearly know how they intend to use the machine. Use cases can range from the types of ultrasounds that will be performed to the most severe pathologies within the practice.

Whether trying to identify masses, conduct fetal assessments, detect cases of effusion, or wanting to prioritize musculoskeletal practices, different uses could require a different probe or unit capabilities.

2. The Workflows You Currently Have or Hope To Have

Most US machines today will come with workflow automation, while some won’t. This is something to consider if you’re debating on purchasing an older model. Practices often look for this type of feature since it allows providers to automate different levels of an exam through exam automation software.

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While the exams available for automation will range between different systems, AI-based features could save physicians at least an hour per day in administrative processes.

3. What Probes/Transducers Are Needed

Probes/Transducers

The probes you use must be specific to the type of imaging you need to produce. For example, cardiac imaging and transvaginal exams will require different probes.

If you have a cardiac clinic, echocardiograms are the primary type of imaging you will produce, requiring an array probe due to its capability to produce highly detailed images from the heart through the entire rib cage. With the heart’s long axis, an array probe is the most appropriate option for assessing the heart.

When considering other specialties, there are probes designed for a specific purpose. The probe used for transvaginal imaging, for example, is specifically designed for insertion into the vaginal canal. It offers high-frequency imaging and provides closer proximity to multiple structures, which is why this probe allows for imaging with superior resolution and clarity.

If your practice needs to produce abdominal imaging, you will notice that low-frequency curvilinear transducers are primarily used for these exams. This is due to the broader field of view and the deeper penetration needed for the exam. 

What Probes/Transducers Are Needed for OB GYN?

In obstetrics and gynecology (OB/GYN), selecting the appropriate ultrasound probes (transducers) is crucial for accurate and adequate imaging. These probes vary in design, frequency, and application, each serving specific diagnostic purposes in OB/GYN care.

Types of Ultrasound Probes for OB/GYN
  1. Convex (Curvilinear) Probe
  2. Endocavitary (Transvaginal) Probe
  3. Linear Probe
  4. 3D/4D Probes

4. The Transducer Frequency Range

An ultrasound machine’s transducer determines how deep the US waves can penetrate a patient’s tissue.

The number of US waves emitted per second directly influences image clarity. Because of this, all practices should prioritize units that offer frequencies that at least fall within 2.5 MHz and 5 MHz or that go up to 8 MHz for better observation capabilities.

5. The Budget Allocated for the Machine

The initial investment of even the best handheld ultrasound in 2024 can run between $5,000 and $100,000. The price gap is so wide due to the variety of factors that influence the price of a portable ultrasound unit.

Providers should consider the cost of ownership and not the shelf price alone. For example, when going over how to choose a portable ultrasound machine, remember that maintenance alone will often run a practice of 10% to 15% of the entire purchase price of the unit.

6. After-Sale Warranty and Needed Support Available

On average, you should expect the lifespan of an ultrasound device to last up to 9 years in a variety of cases, although you should be prepared to replace it a few years sooner. This is why replacing your ultrasound machine every 5 to 7 years is recommended to avoid the chance of complete machine failure and not having a replacement or alternative onsite.

The initial price of a portable ultrasound will significantly vary, and ultimately, what you pay will be based on two primary factors: whether you’re buying new or used and the type of imaging you need to produce. While the initial investment isn’t something that can be manipulated, you want to ensure that what you’re buying comes with some protection to help you safeguard the investment.

READ ALSO:  Top Reasons to Invest in a Philips Portable Ultrasound for Your Practice

Most warranties will provide the following:

  • Annual Preventative Maintenance
  • A Higher Trade-In Value
  • Lifetime Software Upgrades
  • As Needed Product Support

Prioritize units with an after-sale warranty and ongoing support. This will help minimize downtime and reduce potential gaps in patient care.

7. What Image Quality the Machine Offers

Multiple things affect ultrasound resolution, such as short wavelengths. The resolution that a unit provides determines image clarity, and the spatial resolution that a unit has is dependent on other forms of resolution, such as lateral or axial.

To determine whether a machine will produce superior image quality, consider machines that offer a dynamic range of at least 60-80 dB. Go for a higher frame rate and opt-in for uses with more advanced signal processing algorithms.

8. Doppler Capability Needs

Doppler

Doppler ultrasound evaluates blood flow through blood vessels. If your practice is involved in vascular studies, conducts cardiac assessments, or has any need that requires blood flow analysis, you would need Doppler capabilities.

A few recommended machines for this type of use would be a Samsung portable ultrasound like the SAMSUNG HM70 EVO, which provides a versatile approach for multiple imaging types. You’ll notice that this machine may have fewer features, but it also offers 2D and 4D imaging with excellent image quality.

The GE Logiq E system is another versatile option, including M and B Modes and color and power Doppler capabilities. Considering this system’s popularity, you should know that the GE Logiq E portable ultrasound machine’s price can range from $12,500. Whether you buy a new or refurbished unit will primarily influence your end price with this machine.

9. Software and Connectivity Features

While going for portable options means the unit will have a smaller footprint, you also want to prioritize certain features such as;

  • Cloud-based storage
  • DICOM compatibility
  • Real-time telehealth functions
  • Wireless connections

10. Unit Portability

When considering the best ultrasound machine of 2024, prioritize portability and flexibility. The GE Logiq E and GE Voluson E10 units are neck and neck. While the E8 unit might be pricier, there is a good reason for this: it offers superior 4D imaging, uses AI to reduce keystrokes needed to perform evaluations, and includes tissue Doppler and tissue optimization.

Its most famous feature, though, is its ergonomic design. It’s not handheld but portable, which is what practices should prioritize. The GE Logiq E, on the other hand, is highly portable and makes going from patient to patient more doable, considering it’s the equivalent of a laptop in size.

Explore Top-Rated Portable Ultrasound Machines Today!

Our comprehensive guide and free price comparison tool will help you find the perfect machine for your clinic at the best price.

Visit https://marcroftmedical.com/ to compare the best portable ultrasound machines from leading manufacturers.

Family Physician | marcroftmedicals@gmail.com | Website

Primacy care physician and self-described social media enthusiast Dr. Mike Sevilla is a Salem, OH-based family doctor who posts articles as well as videos and podcasts. He began his blogging career as “Doctor Anonymous” in 2006, sharing stories of his patients from the exam room.

Now he posts to his eponymous site, making YouTube videos to talk about current health trends and writing about topics such as opioid abuse, cancer awareness, and staying safe during the holidays.

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