Choosing the right ultrasound machine for canine pregnancy scanning can be an overwhelming decision. The internet is full of options. The below article discusses machines in the £1000 – £3000 ($1300 – $3900 USD) price range, and highlights three key questions to ask yourself when choosing the best ultrasound machine for you.
Question 1: What size animals will you be scanning?
Small-medium dogs or cats
If you will be scanning cats or small-medium dogs, you definitely need to find a scanner with a microconvex probe. This is for two main reasons:
- The bitch’s abdomen is small, making a wide probe less practical.
- The ultrasound waves do not need to travel far very into the body, so you can use higher frequency sound waves, which produce better quality images.
Look at the photographs below of a microconvex probe being used on a cat and on a heavily pregnant pug. A convex probe would be twice the size, which would be fine for the wide belly of the pug, but would make life very difficult when scanning the cat. Chihuahuas can be even smaller than the cat in this picture, so think carefully about probe selection! Wireless ultrasound probes are definitely not appropriate here.
Below are some examples of scan images taken at higher frequencies. The scanning frequency has been circled in blue. The below images are captured at high resolution.
The good news for you is that you are going to be able to get fantastic image quality with your high frequency, high resolution transducer. The compromise is that these higher quality transducers invariably cost a little more money than their lower frequency, lower resolution cousins.
Recommended: Your best choice here would be the ScanX, Apogee 1000 Lite, or ScanPad.
If you will be scanning a lot of larger canine breeds, you will need a probe capable of scanning at lower frequencies – ideally, at 5MHz or lower. You may also enjoy the larger size of the probe, allowing you to get more on screen in one sweep. Bulldogs are also well-suited to large convex probes (but do equally well with microconvex).
You can learn more about probe types and what to avoid in the video below:
Recommended: Your best options would be the KX5600 or ScanX.
Question 2: Will you be offering a scanning service to others?
If so, having a solid warranty and UK or Ireland-based support is essential. You simply cannot afford to postpone clients for 30+ days whilst you wait for your machine to return from repair in China (with postage costs entirely at your own expense); they will simply go elsewhere. You also won’t be able to obtain breakdown cover for your ultrasound scanner if you have not purchased a machine which is safe, fit for purpose, and supported in the UK or Ireland.
Finally, UK and Irish authorities are beginning to notice the influx of unsafe medical equipment into their markets, and are finally beginning to take action against this. The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) in Ireland, for example, can intervene and stop you from doing business in the Republic of Ireland if they have reason to believe that you are using an ultrasound machine which is not CE marked or does not conform with the EU’s rules on ultrasonic power outputs. The majority of ultrasound scanners purchased on marketplaces such as eBay and shipped directly from China are unlikely to meet any European or North American safety or quality standards, because it’s their use of unapproved components that makes them so cheap.
The United Kingdom’s Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) fulfils a similar role to the HPRA and is unlikely to be far behind.
New ultrasound scanners onto the market like the ScanX and Apogee 1000 Lite can be serviced remotely, and rarely need to ever be sent in for repair.
Question 3: How will you be sharing your images?
Think about how you will share your images with friends, fans and clients. If you are only scanning your own animals, you may still plan to share these pictures on social media to alert followers to litters which are due or to improve the reputation of your kennel, cattery or stud service. Taking photos or videos of the screen with your smartphone is impractical and unprofessional. The KX5600v portable ultrasound machine can take still images, and the ScanPad and ScanX can save both stills and video clips, like the one below:
If you plan to offer a professional and competitive scanning service for others, you need to consider this question even more seriously. In a world where social media is so important for marketing, having images and videos which your clients can easily share with their followers is very important for promoting your business. A few extra hundred pounds spent on the right ultrasound machine that will allow your clients to advertise for you will pay dividends in the long run.