Different Portable Ultrasound Machine That Any Technician Should Know Of

woman checked through ultrasound machine

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Ultrasound machines are like Swiss army knives in the medical field. They need to perform a wide variety of functions in diverse applications and offer users exceptional portability. Many options exist for a portable ultrasound machine, but there is much you need to consider before choosing your perfect device.

What Is a Portable Ultrasound Machine?

A portable ultrasound machine is a lightweight and compact imaging machine. Its size and mobility make it optimally designed to provide advanced imaging for your patients with greater ease and comfort to the user. Due to the convenience and capabilities of portable ultrasound machines, these devices are increasingly popular with physicians in many practices and specialties.

what is portable ultrasound

What Do They Do?

Ultrasound devices are powerful tools in the medical field. Handheld and portable ultrasound machines have applicable uses in a wide range of medical fields, including:

  • OB/GYN
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Cardiac
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Vascular
  • Pain Management
  • Veterinary

A portable ultrasound machine offers an exceptional level of compactness and mobility that make it especially well-suited for bedside use or ultrasounds performed in the field or on the go. As advances in technology continue to improve image quality of ultrasound machines, these devices are finding growing popularity in the medical fields of emergency and critical care medicine, pain management, and musculoskeletal applications.

Applications for these devices are widespread and diverse. Pregnancy scans are one of many uses for a portable ultrasound machine, such as making cardiac diagnoses on patients. The intended use plays an important role in deciding which type of ultrasound device will best suit your practice.


Different Portable Ultrasound Machines

different kinds of portable

Portable ultrasound machines come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Three different categories of portable ultrasound devices are available:

  • Laptop ultrasound machines
  • Fold-down ultrasound machines
  • Handheld or hand-operated ultrasound machines

As we already mentioned, the portable ultrasound machine that works best for you will depend on how you plan to use it.

Laptop Ultrasounds

Laptop ultrasound machines are relatively lightweight at 7 to 14 pounds each. The monitor measures between 13 and 15 inches typically.

Fold-Down Ultrasounds

Fold-down ultrasound machines are ideal for OB/GYN and cardiovascular applications because they have two transducer ports. This reduces the need to switch probes as often, making for a more efficient scan and reducing the risk of damaging probes when you change them. Fold-down ultrasound machines typically weigh between 10 and 20 pounds.

Handheld or Hand-Operated Ultrasounds

Handheld ultrasound devices are much smaller than the laptop or fold-down machines. They weigh less than a pound usually, and the monitor screen is similar in size to that of a handheld tablet device. Due to the smaller size of handheld ultrasound systems, they do not have the same high-end features that laptop or fold-down systems possess.


Things to Consider When Choosing a Portable Ultrasound Machine

Several considerations are important when selecting a portable ultrasound machine, including weight, size, and performance. For imaging performance, there are many things to keep in mind. Some of these things include:

  • Lightweight design and battery life
  • 3D and 4D options
  • Automation and workflow efficiency
  • Availability of transducers
  • Compound imaging
  • Image quality for deep tissue
  • High-resolution monitor
  • Image optimization
  • Measurement features
  • Spectral quality and Doppler sensitivity
  • Near-field resolution
  • System architecture
  • Cardiac imaging modes
  • Frame rates
  • Speckle Reduction Imaging
  • Measurement and reporting
  • HDLife or Virtual HD

Obviously, you may have more things you feel are important considerations, but these will help you get started.

Cost is an important factor to consider. A refurbished portable ultrasound machine can cost between $3,000 and $20,000, but other high-end machines can cost more than $50,000. For those seeking a more affordable option, rental machines are available for about $500 per month.

Choosing a refurbished machine can provide additional savings that factor into choosing the right ultrasound machine. Refurbished machines should perform and look like new ultrasound devices and meet the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s specifications. Refurbished devices undergo extensive inspections and diagnostics before undergoing replacement of out-dated parts and professional cleaning. The devices receive sterilization and repainting before going through final tests and calibrations to ensure they function without error.

Overall, you will need to choose a machine that falls into one of four price point categories depending on your specific needs and your budget: high-end, mid-range, economy, or handheld.

High-End Machine

high end ultrasound machines

A high-end portable ultrasound machine forces you to pay a higher price for greater value and quality. Examples of high-end machines include GE Vivid iq, Philips CX50, and Chison SonoBook 9. All these machines offer a compact design with excellent mobility. The newest high-end machines offer an array of high-quality features:

  • Superior imaging performance
  • High-quality imaging and advanced quantification
  • Streamlined workflow
  • Automatic and continuous image optimization
  • Advanced Compound Imaging
  • Intelligent Doppler technology
  • Needle visualization
  • 4D echo
  • Transesophageal echo
  • Virtual HD or HDLive
  • Needle visualization
  • Elimination of speckling
  • Improved border definition
  • High-performance linear probes
  • Single crystal probes
  • Solid State Hard Drive


Mid-Range Machine

Mid-Range ultrasound Machine

Mid-range portable ultrasound machines offer much in the way of quick diagnosis for common scans and for a more reasonable price. This makes them a popular choice for hospitals, private practices and mores specialized departments alike. Their applications are widespread and diverse. A mid-range portable ultrasound machine will usually offer the following features:

  • Lightweight and slim design
  • Automatic optimization
  • Streamlined workflow
  • Tissue Doppler technology
  • Needle visualization
  • One-touch optimization
  • 4D imaging modes
  • Adult and pediatric cardiac probes

One of the most popular mid-range machines is the GE Logiq e. It weighs about 11.5 pounds with a 15-inch monitor. And features a design optimal for ease of portability. This device provides superior imaging performance for applications in OB/GYN, GI, abdominal, cardiovascular, and point-of-care. Its imaging technologies include TruScan architecture, SmartScan, ComfortScan, Power Doppler, and panoramic images, to name a few.

Another excellent mid-range device is the Chison EBit 60. This device is ultra-light with some of the latest image optimization technologies and improves the cardiovascular capabilities of its users. It is heavier than the GE Logiq e, at about 16 pounds. The technologies that characterize the Chison EBit 60 include automatic image optimization, compound imaging, speckle reduction, easy connectivity, and more. This device is excellent for applications in cardiology, radiology, OB/GYN, abdominal, musculoskeletal, pediatric, and many others.

Some other excellent mid-range machines to investigate are the SonoSite Edge and the GE Voluson i.

Economy Machine

Economy ultrasound Machine

Economy portable ultrasound machines offer good performance at a lower price point. Although they do not offer the same level of advanced technologies, their affordability makes them exceedingly popular for point-of-care needs and veterinary practices. The features included in these devices often include:

  • OB/GYN, MSK, and general imaging capabilities
  • Good image quality
  • Speckle reduction
  • Image compounding
  • Automatic optimization
  • Dedicated measurements
  • Rugged design

One machine we look more closely at is the SonoSite M-Turbo. This device offers exceptional versatility as an ultrasound machine. It provides users with high-resolution imaging in many applications, including cardiac, nerve, vascular, pelvic, abdominal, venous access, point-of care, intensive care, and superficial imaging.

Another excellent economy option is the Chison ECO3. This makes for an exceptional diagnostic device because it combines B/W Doppler with many echocardiography features. This device has a 12-inch monitor. Other key features of the Chison ECO3 device are efficient workflows, easy-to-use keyboard design, 320 gigabytes of storage, DICOM 3 compatibility, three USB ports, dual probe port, and wide viewing angle from its rotatable monitor. More specific technologies included with this ultrasound device include:

  • Compound imaging
  • Speckle reduction
  • Multiple measurement softwares
  • Trapezoid imaging
  • I-image optimization
  • Tissue harmonic imaging

Other great choices for economy ultrasound machines are the SonoSite MicroMaxx and the Chison ECO5.

Handheld Machine

Handheld ultrasound Machine

A handheld portable ultrasound machine is a popular choice for emergency departments and areas in need of fast visualizations, bedside monitoring, and anatomy or fluid measurements. These devices are comparable to the size of a tablet and often feature a touchscreen monitor. The most popular models include the GE VScan Extend, GE Venue 50, SonoSite NanoMaxx, and Chison SonoTouch 30.

The GE VScan is an excellent choice for a pocket-size handheld ultrasound device. It offers an immediate visual validation and stands out from other devices because of its dual-port housing, which allows for two transducers. The GE VScan also features a thumb-controlled interface with minimal keys, all of which still offers precise imaging quality.

Final Thoughts

Ultrasound machines are valuable tools to so many areas of the medical field, and portable ultrasound machines are becoming more popular every day. Their small size, exceptional mobility, and increasing affordability make them a great choice of a tool for far more than the typical pregnancy scan.

When selecting the best machine for your needs, checking off features from your list is one part of the equation. Those features must also balance with your budget. This article shows that the options available at each price point are vast. Above we have listed many specific machines that offer several advanced technologies, even within more reasonable price categories. Figure out which price point offers the most features you need, and you will find the perfect machine for you and your practice. 

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