Guide to Ultrasound Machines

Diagnostic ultrasound machines come in many forms.

This guide is meant to offer an extensive overview of the many to consider when you are looking to buy an ultrasound.

It is a popular imaging method partly due to the fact that they utilize high-frequency sound waves to generate live images. Hereby, ultrasound is harmless, non-ionizing radiation, in contrast to X-rays used in other types of medical imaging equipment.

They are used for many different applications and have developed to be highly specialised.

So, how do you pick the right one?

This guide will walk you through the main points of that decision.

Ultrasound Applications

Ultrasound systems can be dedicated to certain types of examinations. However, an advanced cardiac system, is not optimal for OB/GYN.

So, consider what examinations the system will be used for and let that guide your decision when you are looking at ultrasound machines for sale.

You can see the most common applications below by opening the bar.

  • Cardiac

    Cardiac and cardiovascular ultrasounds are specialised for examinations of the heart, and heart and vessels respectively.

    A cardiac ultrasound examination, also called echocardiogram, examines size, shape, and motion of the heart.

    Dedicated cardiac ultrasounds comes with options that eases examinations and allow for better imaging and analysis of data. The more advanced the system the more advanced software.

    Ultrasounds require probes, and for cardiac you have a couple to choose from.
    You typically need a phased array probe. Furthermore, in some cases a TEE probe is required. A TEE probe is a type of specialised cardiac probe for insertion in the oesophagus.  And pencil probes are good for examining blood movement.

  • OB/GYN

  • General Imaging

Main Ultrasound Brands and Series

The four main brands are Siemens, GE, Philips, and Canon (former Toshiba).
And there are that are popular, such as Samsung, Esaote, Sonosite and more.

These all offer high quality equipment that has great value, even as used ultrasound systems.

This section will give an overview of the main series within each of the four main brands. We will focus mostly on those popular on the used market.

Siemens Ultrasound Series

Siemens ultrasound machines are generally versatile. Their series are not split per application and we have therefore split them per performance.


The Acuson X-series

This ultrasound series covers the entry and mid-range segment and includes models such as X300, X700 and more.

All systems are for general imaging and can perform a range of examinations.
Furthermore, all of them can be upgraded to shared service.

GE Ultrasound Series

GE is a popular manufacturer and they have been strong in the ultrasound market for years.

Their series are divided by applications, and the main ones are Voluson, Vivid, and Logiq.
Each of these series are further divided into sub series.
For the Voluson and Logiq the sub series are E, which is their high-end models, S that is mid-range, and P, their entry level models. For the Vivids it is E, S, and T, where T is their entry level.

The Voluson Series

This series of ultrasound machines is dedicated to OB/GYN and women’s health.
Models in this series include the Voluson S6, E8 and E10, and the portable ultrasounds Voluson I and Voluson E.


The Logiq Series

This is GE’s ultrasounds series for general imaging.
Hereby, it is good for radiology, breast, interventional and more.
The series consist of several models including: Logiq E9, P7 and the portable Logiq E.


The Vivid Series

Dedicated to cardiovascular imaging.
Includes models such as Vivid E95, Vivid T8, Vivid S5, and the portable Vivid I and Q.


GE has also created the Venue series for point of care ultrasound machines and the Versana ultrasound series for dedicated urology care.

Philips Ultrasound Series

Philips base their ultrasound series on performance, like Siemens, rather than per application, but still offer ultrasounds for all types of applications by offering general imaging systems.

ClearVue Series

Entry level ultrasounds consists of models such as 350, 550 and 650.

Affiniti Series

Mid-range ultrasounds such as Affiniti 30, 50 and 70.

Epiq Series

The high-end ultrasounds series from Philips, contains models such as Epiq 5 and 7.

Philips also offer the CX50, a portable ultrasound also for general imaging.

Canon Ultrasound Series

Canon, former Toshiba, has two lines of general ultrasounds.

Xario Series

Entry level systems such as 200g and 100MX

Aplio Series

Consist of mid-line models such as Aplio 300, 400 and 500.

Furthermore, they have more recent and advanced models such as the i600, i700, and more.

Canon also offers a portable ultrasound for general imaging, the Viamo c100.

How Much does an Ultrasound Cost

Prices of used ultrasound machines vary a lot, as they depend on several factors like age, condition, and model.

At LBN Medical, you can find ultrasounds from 5.000 to 80.000 euros.

In the matrix below you find a simple overview of ultrasound prices based on main brands. The cost is determined per condition and the type of ultrasound system. Condition is split into new, refurbished and used, and type is defined as entry-level, mid-range and high tier.

Prices are in thousand euros and for systems box only.

If you prefer, you can also watch our video with Mehdi Smail explaining the ultrasound price matrix.

In general, ultrasound systems on the used market are 4-7 years old.

As seen from the matrix, the upside of buying used or refurbished, is that you pick a more advanced system. Furthermore, encouraging the use of the equipment for as long as possible makes the medical imaging industry more sustainable.

As prices above are box only, you should add cost for probes. Prices of used probes depend mostly on the type of probe. A general rule of thumb is that:

  • 2D probes cost 1.000 -2.000 euros
  • 3D/4D probes cost 2.000 – 3.000 euros
  • TEE probes cost 5.000 – 10.000 euros

If you want to learn more about prices and the factors that affect them read our full post on it.
There you will also find information on demo systems and more examples of models within each category.

Used, Refurbished, or New Ultrasounds

Now that you have overview of approximate prices for the categories, we would like to attach a few words to each.

Used Ultrasounds

Used equipment is a very broad category. Some companies merely move the systems, and they are sold “as is”. Options and configurations will be the same as the previous owner had, you have no choice in the matter.

This can be priced low, but also comes with slightly more risk.

However, at other companies, all used ultrasound machines for sale have been cleaned and tested by professional technicians. Basically, a high quality is ensured, and this is where you will find great value for money.

Refurbished Ultrasounds

Might be surprising, but this can be a broad category too. You can get refurbished in the sense that it is defined by the seller, ISO refurbished, and OEM refurbished.

With general refurbishment the seller has put the system through a process, that may cosmetic and functionality aspects. For instance, cleaning and painting, parts replacement and installing options. However, it might not contain much.

Therefore, it is important to ask.

ISO certified or OEM refurbishment, included following more strictly defined processes.

At LBN Medical we do offer both refurbished, ISO and OEM refurbished systems.

New

New systems are of course brand new, there is not much more to say about that. Zero risk but at a higher price.

Ultrasound Specifications

Hopefully you are now a little more aware of what kind of ultrasound you need and how much it cost.
And of course you can always reach out with questions.

Now there are only a few extra aspects to consider, for you to pick the right model.
You can read about each in the bars below.

  • Licenses

    Most ultrasounds come with general options , but if you do more specialised examinations, you typically need to add those specific options.

    This is what licenses are, they open for the software for those extra functionalities. In some cases the software need to be added, rather than just opened.
    It can be for certain obstetric or cardiac options, for instance 4D.

    So, check the licenses and options, make sure that you have what you need, and ask if you are in doubt.

  • Ultrasound Ports

  • Year of Manufacture

  • Power Compatibility

  • User Language

  • Condition of Used Ultrasound Machines

  • Ultrasound Machine Peripherals

Which Ultrasound Probes to Get

To send and receive the signal and use your ultrasound system, you need probes, also called transducers.

First important point is that not all probes are compatible with all ultrasounds, so make sure you get the right one.
And ask our team if you are in doubt.

Secondly, different types of transducers are better for different types of examinations.
Like convex for abdominal and phased array for cardiac.

Generally, the different types differ in footprint, frequency, and piezoelectric crystal arrangement.

Let us go through one at a time.

Footprint, also called the aperture, is the part of the probe that is in contact with the body and comes in different shapes and sizes. The footprint is linked to the piezoelectric crystal arrangement, for instance with linear and convex probes.

The piezoelectric crystal arrangement is the part that obtains the image. Therefore, it affects the footprint, but also decides the shape of the ultrasound beam.

Frequency means the frequency of the sound waves emitted from the probe. Generally, higher frequencies offer better image quality, but not as deep penetration compared to lower frequencies.

Linear Probes

The footprint size is relatively large, the beam shape is rectangular, and the frequency high (7 – 18Mhz).
Therefore, the near field resolution is good, which makes it good for superficial examinations of vascular, small parts, nerve, musculoskeletal, and breast.

Convex Probes

Convex probes, or curved probes has a large footprint, a convex beam shape, and a low frequency (2.5 – 5Mhz).
Its low frquency makes it a good probe for in depth examinations.
Therefore, it is used for abdominal, vascular, nerve, musculoskeletal and GYN/OBS ultrasound examinations.

Additionally, there is a subtype called micro convex with a much smaller footprint, which is typically used in neonatal and paediatrics.

Phased Array Probes

Phased array are also called sector probes.
They come with a quite small footprint and emit low frequency ultrasounds (2 – 8Mhz).

Therefore, they offer lower resolution but deeper penetration.

Phased array probes have narrow and almost triangular beam points, but they can expand depending on the frequency applied.
They are typically used for imaging through acoustic windows in the skull or intercostal spaces.

Specialized Probes

On top of these standard probes, there is a range of more specialised probes.

They include internal probes, design for specific bodily orifices. Therefore, they have very small footprints.

Transoesophageal, or TEE probes produce images of the heart through the oesophagus.
There is also pencil probes, also called CW Doppler probes, for measuring blood movement and sound.

Additionally, there is a number of probes that are designed for surgical use, like laparoscopic probes.

Ultrasound Maintenance Checklist – 5 Important Points

Once you have purchased a used ultrasound system, you might as well take good care of it.

Below are 5 important points in the maintenance of an ultrasound machine.

1. Daily Checks of the Ultrasound Machine

At the start of your day, check that all connections are properly plugged.

Check the cables and make sure that they are not being run over by the ultrasound or worn in other ways.

2. Pay Attention to Your Ultrasound Transducers

Ultrasound transducers are a crucial part of a fully functional ultrasound unit.

You can perform a quick visual check before use.
Check for cracks and cuts and make sure that they are not being run over, getting stuck or twisted.

They are quite sensitive, so be careful not to drop them and secure them safely on the ultrasound.
Moreover, you should follow the cleaning protocols, as they could be damaged if you use the wrong disinfectants, for instance including alcohol, which dries out the lens.

3. End of Shift Prevention

At the end of the day you should wipe the ultrasound machine thoroughly.
Note if you had any issues during the day and remember to report any serious problems to your service representative right away.

4. Full System Backup

As for many other devices it can be a good idea to do a back-up regularly.
This is to reduce downtime, if the system should fail due to software or hardware issues.
In a back-up you save your pre-sets, network data, options and other user preferences.

5. Preventive Maintenance for Your Ultrasound

The performance of an ultrasound machine will decrease slightly over time.
Preventive maintenance is an option to try and slow this process down.

It checks the system to make sure that it is still up for running at full speed.

Sum Up of Main Points

Thanks for reading this far. In this paragraph, we will sum up the most important points from this guide to ultrasound machines.

  • What type of studies will I perform?

    Most ultrasounds are specialized to certain applications.
    Therefore, this is important information to provide to your supplier, as this will guide the decision of which model to pick.

    Certain brands dedicate series to certain applications and others aim for general imaging and shared service systems that can be customized to a range of applications.

  • What ultrasound brands are the best?

  • How much does an ultrasound cost?

  • Should I buy used, refurbished, or new?

  • What probes do I need?

  • How do I maintain my ultrasound and my probes?

If you made it this far in this guide to ultrasound machines and still have questions, please reach out. You can get further assistance from our professional team.

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