Portable ultrasound machines are most frequently used in environments where the large console units are difficult or impossible to move around. Moreover, they are best used in locations where the console ultrasound units cannot go, such as on a sports playing field, in-home patient visits, EMT vehicles, the mission field, schools, and more.
The technology has improved so much over the last few decades when they were first introduced, especially as it regards the battery life, that many hospitals and medical offices use them exclusively. It does not hurt that they are often less expensive than the larger models. And, because of their size and weight, they are easy to carry around, have become quite intuitive and ergonomic, and are internet-friendly, even now being able to upload pictures to patient files automatically.
What’s more, picture quality is amazing, and they now can operate in 3-D and 4-D real-time motion giving the medical personnel using the machines a more accurate glimpse into their patient’s body without having to open them up. And portable ultrasound is for more than just taking pictures of babies in their mother’s wombs. Applications include cardiac, musculoskeletal, muscle and ligament damage, and more.
Following are five great ultrasound machines that should be seriously considered if you are in the market for a unit. But before that, here is a brief history of portable ultrasound.
History of Portable Ultrasound
Portable ultrasound machines were first created in 1975 by Marty Wilcox and weighed 25 pounds and used an oscilloscope instead of a monitor to display the images. These were not typically present in many medical environments until the 1980’s. They were still cumbersome and had weak battery life, which meant they still had to stay within hospital and other medical settings. Yet, they had many uses and were easier to move around than the bulky, traditional, console units. In 1998, the first portable ultrasound machine designed primarily for cardiac use was released. Industry leader Sonosite grew out of a number of companies and was eventually purchased by Philips. In the 1990’s, portable ultrasound systems were miniaturized even more to the point where they could easily be carried around. As battery technology improved, these units were able to operate for long periods of time without need of a separate power source. As battery technology continues improving, portable units are able to run for hours.
Best 5 Portable Ultrasound Machines on Market
There are many more units that could have made this top five, but the following represent high ratings from medical personnel and engineers. Not every bit of data for each machine is listed. We have chosen some of the more impressive and fundamental aspects to highlight.
GE LOGIQ i
- SRI-HD with organ-specific imaging for tissue specific contrast resolution.
- CrossXBeam imaging for improved border detection
- B-Steer Plus for enhanced target-needle visualization.
- Raw data imaging to help improve workflow.
- Wireless networking for convenience and helps enhance workflow on portable procedures.
- DualView, a simultaneous display of a 2D image alongside a spatial compounded image (CrossXBeam), allowing for better delineation of tissue architecture while maintaining important clinical markers.
- Automatic Optimization (AO) to help achieve peak and consistent image quality in both B-Mode and spectral Doppler at the touch of a button.
This unit has a broad range of applications, including the following: Abdominal, cardiology, obstetrical, gynecological, musculoskeletal, vascular, urological, small parts, pediatric and neonatal, intraoperative.
This unit allows for the use of four different transducers types, weighs 10 pounds, and a 15 display screen. It operates in B- and M-Modes, as well Color Flow Mode, Power Doppler Imaging, Continuous Wave Doppler and Pulse Wave Doppler.
Sony Terason t3000
The Terason t3000 offers a workflow solution as a high speed computer that is ergonomically friendly, and runs powerfully to networking and incredible pictures. It does as much as any unit on the market today.
- Teratech architecture that is the best on the market today that combines high-speed imaging and computing with a scalable platform that producers superb Doppler and imaging.
- 256 beam forming channels through their Fusion Processor whips off the shelf models allowing for multi-focal transmission zones, and offers 128 channel for amazing b-mode sensitivity.
- It weighs in at only 8 pounds and provides up to two hours of usage with a battery.
You name it, it can do it. From use in a veterinarian hospital to the pro sports field, this unit can do it all.
Multiple Dopplers, 2-D and M-mode imaging, and an ECG trace, as well as an internal hard drive for storage, a CDRW drive, can store up to 50,000 images, and allows for up to 7 types of transducers.
SonoSite M Turbo
The SonoSite M Turbo is an incredibly light ultrasound portable system weighing in at only 6.7 pounds. Yet do not let its small size and weight fool you into believing it has limited capabilities. It is an incredibly versatile system that is powerful and one of SonoSite’s most advanced systems to date.
- ColorHD Technology
- SonoGT Global Targeted Technology
- Patient Management
- New USB Bar Code Reader
- SonoRemote Control
- SonoRoam Technology
- Workflow Integration DICOM storage Commit and DICOM Modality Performed Procedure Step have been added to the M-Turbo system to complete the IHE profile (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise) Scheduled Workflow (SWF) Integration Profile. This facilitates seamless clinical integration of ordering, scheduling, image acquisition, storage, viewing, and billing of patient procedures.
This unit masters four unique applicational needs. They are: OB/GYN and fertility, cardiac, intima media thickness, and vascular.
As stated above, this unit does all this at under 7 pounds. The display is just over 10 and offers 256 shades of gray. It operates via AC and has a re-chargeable lithium battery. Transducer types include broadband, single frequency and multi-frequency. It is compatible with both a Mac and PC, allows for MPEG-4, JPEG, BMP, and HTML. Plus, it has an 8 gig flash memory, allows for up to 30,000 images, S-video, and is wireless.
GE Vivid e
The GE Vivid e unit specializes in the miniature, not just because of its size, but because of what it sees and brings to the display.
- New information tools
- Automatic Tissue Optimization (ATO) option helps you obtain quality images faster by automatically adjusting the image settings to optimize images
- Complete measurement and analysis worksheets and reports are tailored to each exam.
- Live Anatomical M-Mode corrects for off-axis orientation in situations where the heart is not positioned or shaped normally.
- Full diagnostic and monitoring capabilities
- Advanced measurement and analysis tools
- Phased-array transducer technology for 2D, color and Doppler imaging
- Multiple focal zones help to optimize image quality
- Extremely high frame rates, enhanced color flow and color angio assist in acquiring extremely low- velocity flows.
- 5 levels of Coded Octave Harmonics help you obtain quality images from difficult-to-image patients.
- LVO contrast option, based on 2D Harmonic imaging with Coded Phase Inversion, aids in scanning your most challenging patients
- Triplex and duplex display capabilities to simplify Doppler acquisitions
- Tissue Doppler Imaging provides real-time Doppler spectral information for specified myocardial motion, allowing for instantaneous tissue velocity measurements.
Applications for the GE Vivid e include cardiac, vascular, abdominal, small parts, intraoperative.
Weighing in at only 10 pounds, this unit has a re-chargeable battery that allows up to one hours use, 40 gig storage, compresses images into compact files that can be transferred to other media, networks, or can simply be emailed directly to someone. It allows for 4 different transducer types and 6 different transducers, and operates in 4 unique Doppler modes, as well as B-Mode, Color Flow Mode, and M-Mode.
This point-of-care unit makes portable ultrasound affordable and powerful. It is perfect for the EMT, the urgent care clinic, veterinarian offices, sports teams and schools, as well as emergency rooms. SonoSite MicroMaxx is a fantastic little unit.
- Embedded Software Means Solid Reliability
- Chip Fusion Technology Enables advanced, cart-based image resolution in a hand-carried unit by integrating digital signal processing and multiple ultrasound functions into a custom ASIC microchip to deliver unprecedented performance without the size, weight, and cost of conventional systems.
- Durability SonoSite products and technology deliver proven reliability and durability in conventional medical settings, as well as some far more challenging environments, such as supporting rescue operations following natural disasters.
- From Off to Scanning in Just Seconds The MicroMaxx system boots up within 15 seconds.
- Clinical Utility The MicroMaxx system comes with a wide range of ultrasound transducers for multiple clinical applications.
- SonoCalc IMT which is proprietary edge-detection software that enables clinicians and cardiology specialists to quickly and easily measure intima-media thickness of the carotid artery for assessment of arterial wall disease progression and cardiovascular risk.
While this tough little unit can be used for most anything ultrasound, it finds great use in OB/GYN and fertility clinics, cardiac, vascular, and intima media thickness applications.
Though it weighs under 8 pounds it has an 11 display screen, 128 channels, a 256 gray scale, and is all-digital broadband. Imaging modes are impressive as well and include, duplex imaging, tissue harmonic imaging, 2-D velocity Color, and more. It has an alphanumeric Qwerty keyboard, image acquisition keys, can store up to 10,000 images with a 1 gig flash card, is wireless, and PC compatible. Also, it works with 13 different transducers.
It is obvious portable ultrasound has made huge strides technologically, which now include PC and 4-D imaging. They are lightweight, compact, and easy-to-operate. Plus, most models are easily affordable.