This guide to ultrasound machines is meant to offer an extensive overview of the many things you can consider when you are looking to buy an ultrasound.
One of the reasons it is such a popular imaging method is that ultrasound systems, or sonography machines, as they are also called, utilize high-frequency sound waves to generate live images.
Therefore, ultrasound is harmless, non-ionizing radiation, in contrast to X-rays used in various equipment including CT scanners.
Due to their popularity they are used for many different applications and settings and have developed to be highly specialised within each field.
So, how do you pick the right one?
We have dedicated a section to each of the factors that you might want to know about:
Ultrasound Machine Applications
Ultrasound systems can be dedicated to certain types of examinations and in some cases, they are highly specialised with advanced options and features.
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.
Cardiac ultrasounds are systems that are specialised for examinations of the heart, and often also the vascular system.
A cardiac ultrasound, also called an echocardiogram is used to look at the size, shape, and motion of the heart and to examine associated vessels.
Many ultrasounds are dedicated to cardiac and comes with options that eases examinations and allow for better imaging and analysis of data.
Cardiac systems are often for cardiovascular applications, meaning that they are also specialised for imaging of vessels.
This includes blood flow measurements, for instance Doppler ultrasounds.
For cardiac applications you typically need phased array probes.
TEE probe is a type of dedicated specialised cardiac probe for insertion in the oesophagus, and pencil probes are for imaging of blood movement.
OB/GYN is short for obstetrics and gynaecology.
Within obstetrics ultrasounds confirm pregnancy, determine the gestational age, locate the placenta, and diagnose foetal malformations.
In gynaecology, imaging of the organs of the female pelvis, including uterus and ovaries.
To assess the size, and position of the organs, thickness of the tissues, and to look for masses, or other abnormalities.
Generally, you need convex probes for OB/GYN application and an endocavity probe.
General imaging is a term for ultrasounds that has a wider range of application.
Therefore, they cover: Abdominal, musculoskeletal, small parts, urological, and vascular.
General imaging is also linked to shared service, the only difference is that a shared service system also will have options for cardiology examinations.
The probes you need for general imaging depend on the type of examinations you will use it for.
A convex probe is for instance used for abdominal exams but might not be useful for all other applications within general imaging.
Overview of Ultrasound Series from Premium Brands
The main brands of ultrasounds are Siemens, GE, Philips, and Canon (former Toshiba).
But of course, there are others, 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 most common ultrasound series of each of our main brands for the used market.
Siemens Ultrasound Series
Siemens ultrasound machines are generally versatile.
Their series are not split per applications and we have therefore split them per performance.
The Acuson X-series
This ultrasound series covers the mid and entry level segment and includes models such as X300, X700 and more.
All systems are for General Imaging and can perform a range of examinations.
However, all of them can be upgraded to Shared Service, which requires a cardiac option.
The Acuson S-series
The Siemens S series ultrasound models covers the mid and high segments.
These are also versatile and are recommended for General Imaging and OB/GYN.
This series contains the models Acuson S1000, S2000, and S3000, also including the new HELX and HELX touch versions, that offer improved image quality.
However, Siemens do have a dedicated cardiac system, the Acuson SC2000.
Furthermore, they have newer series that include the Sequoia, Redwood, and Juniper.
These are advanced systems also focused on Shared Service and General Imaging.
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.
Entry level ultrasounds consists of models such as 350, 550 and 650.
Mid-range ultrasounds such as Affiniti 30, 50 and 70.
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, formerly Toshiba, has two lines of general ultrasounds.
Entry level systems such as 200g and 100MX
Consist of mid-line models such as Aplio 300, 400 and 500.
And 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 Machine Cost?
Prices of used ultrasound machines vary a lot.
They depend on several factors like age, condition, features, and of course model.
At LBN Medical for instance, you will 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.
You can see a further definition of these terms in part 4
Type is defined as entry-level, mid-range or high tier.
Prices are in thousand euros.
|New||15 - 25||40 - 50||100+|
|Refurbished||-||25 - 30||50 - 60|
|Used||5 - 10||15 - 20||25 - 35|
|Ultrasound Examples||GE Logiq P7, Siemens X300, Canon Xario 200g, Philips HD5||Siemens X700, GE Voluson S8 and Logiq S7, Philips Affinity 50 and 70, Canon Aplio 400 and 500||GE Voluson E8, E10 and Logiq E9, Siemens S2000 and S3000, Philips Epiq 5 and 7, Canon Aplio i700|
If you prefer, you can also watch our video explaining the 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 can move to the right, towards a more advanced system.
Furthermore, encouraging the use of the equipment for as long as possible makes the medical imaging industry more sustainable.
Additionally, be aware that you can buy ultrasounds “box only” meaning that you only purchase the ultrasound machine, or you can get them including probes or other accessories such as printers, which will add to the price.
Prices of used probes depend mostly on the type of probe. A general rule of thumb is that:
- 2D probes cost 1000 -2000 euros
- 3D/4D probes cost 2000 – 3000 euros
- TEE probes cost 5000 – 10000 euros
2D probes can be linear, convex, micro convex, cardio and endo probes.
3D/4D probes can also be linear, convex, cardio, and endo as well.
Read part 6 for more information on probes.
If you want to learn more about prices of medical ultrasound machines and the additional factors that affect their price, you can read our full blog post on the topic.
Here you will also find information on demo systems and more examples of models within each category.
Difference Between Used, Refurbished, and New
Now that you have overview of approximate prices and how prices compare across new, refurbished and used, we would like to attach a few words to each category.
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 might 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 systems.
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 and ISO and OEM refurbished systems.
New Ultrasound Machines
New is of course brand new and has not been in use before. It is ultrasounds fresh from the factory.
Sometimes you can be lucky and find a demo system, which has not been with an end-user yet, but has been used for trade shows or similar events.
These are in between refurbished and new, both category and price wise.
Other Ultrasound Machine Specifications
Hopefully you are now a little more aware of what kind of ultrasound you need and which price range you are within.
If not – feel free to reach out, we have been helping customers for almost 20 years, and we are sure we can help you too.
Now you have gotten this far, but there are some extra aspects to consider, for you to pick the right model.
Most ultrasounds come with the general options that most healthcare professionals need, but if you have more specialised examinations, you typically need to add those specific options.
This is what licenses are, they give extra functionalities.
It can be for certain obstetric or cardiac ultrasound examinations, for instance 4D.
So, check the licenses and options and make sure that you have what you need.
The port is where the ultrasound probes are plugged into the ultrasound machine.
Not all ultrasound probes have the same connector type, so it is important that the ultrasound and probes are compatible.
Furthermore, if you do several types of examinations you also need more probes, and it often eases workflows that there are enough ports that they can all remain plugged.
Number of ports can differ per ultrasound model, so make sure you check that you have enough for the probes you need.
Year of Manufacture
Age of ultrasound equipment is not necessarily important.
However, it can be, if your country has restrictions for import, or if you need state of the art new options that simply do not exist on older models.
Make sure that you get what you need, but also that you do not pay for more than you need.
Year of manufacture is also linked to software version and hardware version which is again linked to the options and probes.
However, if you need something specific, both software and hardware are sometimes upgradable.
Ultrasounds differ in what power they need. They can be compatible with either 110V or 220V.
What you have access to in your country should determine the power supply of the ultrasounds or if you should get a transformer.
The user language of the system can depend on where it was bought from.
If you specifically want English, or another language, make sure that you state this.
Then there will be no surprises when you turn on your system for the first time.
Condition of Used Ultrasound Machines
In many cases condition might matter more than age.
Condition of used ultrasound machines can vary, even of systems of the same age.
It can depend on service and the general wear and tear.
If it is only the cosmetic condition and you would prefer that it looks up to date when it reaches you, consider having it painted by the reseller.
Then you will get an ultrasound machine that looks almost brand new.
Ultrasound Machine Peripherals
Lat but not least there can be a number of peripherals, or accessories, that you might need on top, when you purchase a used ultrasound machine.
This include biopsy kits, printers and probes.
What Types of Ultrasound Probes Do I Need?
To send and receive the signal and to actually use your ultrasound system, you need probes, or transducers as they are also called.
First of all, not all probes are compatible with all ultrasounds, so make sure you get the right one.
You can 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.
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 will be 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.
Get an overview of different probe types below or read our dedicated probe blog for more extensive information.
The footprint size is relatively large and the frequency high (7 – 18Mhz).
Therefore, the near field resolution is good, and the shape of the beam is rectangular.
Hereby, clinicians typically use it for superficial examinations of vascular, small parts, nerve, musculoskeletal, and breast. (include picture)
Convex probes, or curved probes has a large footprint and a low frequency (2.5 – 5Mhz).
The beam shape is convex. It is 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. (include pictures)
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.
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 the acoustic windows in the skull or intercostal spaces. (include picture)
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
One you have purchased a used ultrasound system, you might as well take good care of it, to make sure it lasts and provides accurate imaging.
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 chemicals for disinfection, for instance including alcohol, which dries out the lens.
If you want to learn more about probe care and the most common issues in probes, find more info here.
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.
What Do I Need to Know When Purchasing an Ultrasound?
Thanks for reading this far. In this paragraph we will only sum up the most important points from this guide to ultrasound machines.
What type of studies will I perform?
Most ultrasounds are specialised to certain applications.
Therefore, this is an 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 customised to a range of applications.
What ultrasound brands are the best?
The most popular on the market are the major brands such as GE, Siemens, Philips, Canon (former Toshiba).
As these are high quality brands, they are excellent systems that offer great value for money as used systems as well.
Which brand to pick is more about personal preference and access to service providers in your region, than about one being better than the other.
How much does an ultrasound cost?
Used and refurbished ultrasounds range from 5.000 euros to 60.000 euros.
Demo systems or very recent models can be a bit more expensive, and specific probes or accessories can also affect the price.
Prices of used systems are often around half the price of new.
Should I buy used, refurbished or new?
This depends on your preference and your budget.
As used systems are cheaper, it means that you can get a more advanced used ultrasound for your budget than if you buy used.
For instance, you could pick a refurbished high-end ultrasound rather than a mid-range new ultrasound.
Of course, brand new systems can come with state of the art software, but those are mainly important for very specialised examinations.
What probes do I need?
Probe choice is also determined by the studies you perform, and of course which probes are compatible with your ultrasound model of choice.
Generally, you need phased array and maybe a TEE probe for cardiac and convex and endocavity for OB/GYN.
Check it daily and do back-ups of the system.
For the probes it is particularly important that you keep their cords off the floor to avoid stepping on them or running them over with the ultrasound.
Also that you clean them with the recommended cleaning agents to not dry out the lens.
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.