Ultrasound is the second most popular veterinary imaging modality. It offers clear benefits over radiography in certain diagnostic applications, and recent advancements in ultrasound technology are helping DVMs deliver earlier and more accurate diagnoses.
With so many ultrasound systems available, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when comparing the options. As with most veterinary modalities, the two basic, primary factors that should guide your purchase decision are your budget and your specific needs.
The top 6 features to look for in a veterinary ultrasound equipment are:
- Image resolution
- Image optimization software
- On-board reporting system,
- Needle guidance features
- Specialized applications.
1. High-Res Imaging: Spatial vs Contrast Resolution
Spatial resolution is the ability to separate two closely spaced objects, while contrast resolution is the ability to differentiate density/make-up of objects based on small brightness differences. Ultrasound systems must have the ability to image both superficial and deep anatomy with exceptional spatial and contrast resolution.
In particular, features like Phase Inversion Harmonics and Speckle Reduction Imaging enhance spatial and contrast resolution for improved image clarity. To read more about these features, read the article here: [insert internal/external link explaining these features and their benefits].
2. Automatic Image Optimization
When first learning ultrasound, adjusting the machine to obtain the highest quality images can be quite daunting. Automatic image optimization is a feature that optimizes image quality with the touch of a button, reducing examination time and improving diagnostic capabilities. This enables veterinarians to focus more on the patient rather than spending time making machine adjustments.
Modern ultrasound equipment now comes with Auto Optimization as a standard feature. In addition, presets can be easily adjusted for personalized use, fitting the most common applications and exams in any practice.
3. User-Friendly Design
Both the hardware and software of veterinary ultrasound systems have advanced to offer more versatility and improved diagnostic capability, and have also made acquiring good images much easier. The more complex a user interface is, the less likely the user will be able to adjust and improve images. Be sure to use the system you’re looking at before purchase, assessing how easy it is to adjust and capture images.
But what are some design features of veterinary ultrasound that make the system easy to use?
- Swivel and tilting large monitors are common in console systems and offer greater comfort for users.
- Simultaneous Split Screen is a feature DVMs can use to compare images saved from previous evaluations to real-time scanning, thus speeding up the diagnostic process and improving diagnostic accuracy.
- For busy practices, a feature like GE’s Scan Assistant can customize the scanning protocol program to decreases keystrokes and shortens exam time.
- “Plug and Play” veterinary presets enable high-quality imaging right out of the box.
NOTE: Be sure to make your ultrasound purchase from a veterinary specific source, as human presets are not optimized for veterinary use.
4. Comprehensive Reports
Modern ultrasound systems offer comprehensive, on-board reporting with customizable report templates. With Cloud capabilities, it’s easy to share ultrasound reports and collaborate in real-time with other DVMs and specialists – no matter where they are in the world. Veterinarians can also send images to pet owners via smartphone and email.
5. Needle Guidance Enhancement
When using ultrasound in conjunction with needle sampling (e.g., cystocentesis), it is critical that DVMs have a clear image to help them navigate the procedure. GE’s ultrasound equipment can easily be upgraded with the B Steer Needle Recognition Enhancement system, which gives veterinarians more precision when placing the needle tip into a target.
6. Specialized Applications
Echocardiography (aka ‘echo’) is one of the most common applications of ultrasound in veterinary ultrasound. Basic echo can be done with any system with color flow Doppler, but for more advanced studies, the system will need to be equipped with specialized transducers, CW (continuous wave) Doppler and an ECG tracing system. The portable GE Vivid products are specially designed to evaluate blood flow through the heart and the function of the heart valves.
For veterinarians who intend to use ultrasound for equine care, the LOGIQ® V Equine was built specifically for that purpose. Its features include:
- CrossXBeam™, which enhances the ability to visualize tissue interfaces and differentiate borders
- SRI-HD Speckle Reduction Imaging, which improves the visibility of organs and lesions
- Coded Harmonic Imaging, which improves resolution of deep anatomy
- Customized equine imaging presets for quick image optimization
Although budget is a primary consideration when purchasing ultrasound equipment, most DVMs can reduce the upfront cost by finding a system at a price that fulfills their specific needs. Thanks to recent advancements, veterinary ultrasounds are more versatile and user friendly than preceding models, and they improve diagnostic capabilities due to enhanced image resolution and contrast.
Veterinarians who offer ultrasound are able to deliver faster and more accurate diagnoses. With improved clinical results and the ability to treat specialty niches, ultrasound has proven to be a smart investment both clinically and financially.