Buying used ultrasound equipment

Used ultrasound machines

From the 23rd of June 2018, audio will now be available for all of our longer posts. Text/transcription will be displayed below the audio file.


The pitfalls of buying privately sold used ultrasound equipment

I’ve just finished speaking to a lady who, back in February, bought a used MSU from somebody for £650.

Unsurprisingly, she hasn’t got on well with it. The MSU is a great little machine but, as I’m sure any MSU user will tell you, it takes work. It takes longer to “get your eye in” than with the big LCD screens of the most modern machines, and to go from zero to MSU owner, with no training inbetween, is a recipe for disaster.

I’ve tried to encourage her to attend training, and at one point she was considering getting a Scan Pad, but she’s just so demoralised now, likely this will be her first and last foray into ultrasound. It’s sad, because actually, there’s nobody in her area scanning, so she has no mobile scanners to get her own dogs scanned, and if she had really got into it and wanted to scan for others, she’d have had a great market.

When people try selling machines in the group, before I get round to removing them, I see a lot of people saying “oh my friend is looking for a used machine, I’ll pass your details on.” If you know your friend is looking for a used machine, help them properly. There is no true cheap short cut into ultrasound. It costs time, and it costs money. Anything that’s worth it always does. It’s difficult, it’s frustrating, and people need all the help, support and education they can get. VIS often fall short of the mark, and I know I make plenty of mistakes or misunderstand a customer’s problem – we’re all learning all the time in how we can better support you all – but I don’t think anybody here could say that they’ve called in for help with a particular control, or they’ve forgotten some of their physics and need a reminder, or they want to read up on more information, and not been given that help or those resources. At the very least, any time a concern isn’t answered the way you want, you can do something about it (like call and scream at someone, or post on Facebook. I don’t encourage either of these things, but at least you know you can do it!). Buy from mate of a mate of a mate Jane Doe, and your support begins and ends at point of sale.

Also, it’s common sense: if someone is selling you a used machine, ask yourself why. Do you know the full story? When people put up these posts that they’re just not doing well with ultrasound and have a machine for sale, do you know if they’ve even had any training? Do you know whether or not they bought that machine second-hand themselves? If they did, all they’re doing is offering to pass onto you (or your friend) the exact same bad deal that failed for them: an expensive piece of equipment with no training, no support, and no service. If it failed for them, why do you think it’ll work for you or your friend? It reminds me of a retail building on one of the major roads leading out of Bromley, where I live. Every 6-12 months it’s reincarnated as something new. I bet the ground rent’s an absolute bargain. Everyone must move in thinking it’s going to be different for them, but all of us in the know – all of us who have lived in this town for many years – know it won’t be.

You’re in the know. You know ultrasound is a challenging skill to master. Don’t let your friend throw their money away.


Tips for buying a second hand machine

  • Find out what second hand machines your national supplier (a Limited company) has in stock or anticipates arriving into stock. Don’t assume that their machines will be out of your price range until you’ve spoken to them.
  • Be clear about what you want: is there a particular machine you are looking for? Do you have a budget in mind? What is your time frame? If you’ve seen another offer elsewhere, tell your local supplier. This gives them the opportunity to beat that deal, or give you some pointers as to why this might not be as good a deal as it looks.
  • If you are in the United Kingdom, you can contact VIS for used equipment: ceinwen at
  • If you are not ready to buy but want impartial* advice anywhere in the world, you can contact the AUA. There’s a contact form at the bottom of the page.


* The Animal Ultrasound Association tries to offer impartial equipment advice at all times, but please be aware that we currently only recommend equipment supplied by the ‘big 5’ ultrasound brands or from Vet Image Solutions. Whilst we can advise on others, we cannot endorse them, due to their limited support in the UK or lack of CE certifications.


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