Portable vs. Console Ultrasound Systems: Which Is Best for My Veterinary Practice?

By November 2, 2018 December 31st, 2018 Ultrasound

Now that you’ve made the decision to invest in an ultrasound system, there are several factors to consider before making the purchase. One of the most important is whether to buy a console or portable ultrasound

Each design has its own advantages. Most console systems have more room for processors due to their larger size, which increases processing power and ultimately improves image quality. But today, portable systems tend to offer high image quality that is on par with smaller console systems.

Portable systems are also easier to carry from location to location within your hospital and they allow you to diagnose patients offsite, which opens your practice to specialty niches such as equine, farm, zoo, and marine animal care.

Let’s take a look at a few important factors to consider when choosing between a console and portable ultrasound system:

Is a Console Ultrasound Right for My Practice?

As mentioned above, console ultrasounds tend to offer better image quality than portable systems, but there are other factors to consider when comparing your options. If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, a console ultrasound may be a better fit for your practice:

Do you have enough space to accommodate a console ultrasound?
Most systems have about a 2’ x 2’ footprint, and they are on wheels for easy portability between rooms. Make sure you have enough space to use and store the ultrasound.

Do you need the best possible image quality?
Console ultrasounds tend to offer better spatial resolution than portable systems; however, depending on your typical patient profile, a portable ultrasound may be sufficient, and it would come with the added benefit of opening your practice to specialty niches.

Do you need advanced ultrasound technologies?
Some ultrasound technologies, such as elastography and contrast ultrasound, are more commonly available in console ultrasound systems. If you rely on specialty applications or plan to in the near future, a console system may be the better choice.

Does your practice offer specialized diagnostic services?
Although console systems typically offer more advanced diagnostic features, these are not necessary for all practices. Unless you or another clinician in your practice is an internist, radiologist, or cardiologist, a portable system may be sufficient for your practice.

Is a Portable Ultrasound Right for My Practice?

A portable ultrasound system offers many of the same diagnostic capabilities as a console system, yet it comes with the added benefit of enabling you to examine patients offsite. If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, a portable ultrasound may be a better fit for your practice:

Will you treat animals outside of the hospital?
As previously mentioned, a portable ultrasound system will open up new revenue streams for your practice by enabling you to offer ultrasound to other practices and niches.

Is space a concern?
Portable ultrasounds are compact and easier to store than console systems.

Do you need an ultrasound that can run on battery power?
Many portable systems can run on battery power, further increasing your ability to offer diagnostics outside the practice.

How to Choose the Right Portable Ultrasound for Your Practice

If you decide to invest in portable ultrasound, keep in mind that there can be stark differences between two models. Before making the purchase, it is important that you have a clear understanding of the features you need, how you intend to use the ultrasound, and the logistics of the design.

For example, some portable ultrasounds weigh 30 pounds, so a small person might find them difficult to transport. Some designs are less than 10 pounds, but they might not offer the desired image quality.

Newer portable ultrasound units offer penetration (ability to image larger patients) and image quality that are comparable to larger console systems. These models are popular choices among specialists. By combining the superior diagnostic capabilities with easy portability, these ultrasounds allow DVMs to open their practice to specialty niches while building a reputation for being on the forefront of veterinary imaging.