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Purchasing a veterinary ultrasound system

Whether you’re buying for the first time or upgrading your existing ultrasound system, here’s how to make an investment that best fits your clinics needs.

Veterinarians use many modes of imaging: X-rays, CT scans, MRI and ultrasound. CT and MRI units are rarely seen outside large specialty practices, but ultrasound technology has become more common, and many clinics use ultrasound machines on a daily basis for diagnosis and other procedures.*
“Ultrasound can provide a lot of information for its cost, and is often more readily available compared to other imaging modalities,” says Dr. Drew Sullivan, Medical Director of the Medical District Veterinary Clinic at Illinois, a small animal clinic in Chicago run by the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine.* “Fluid can be distinguished from soft tissue masses or foreign bodies, which are sometimes difficult to differentiate on X-rays. Using ultrasound and X-rays together form a great diagnostic tool.”
Purchasing an ultrasound system for the first time, or upgrading your existing system, can be a challenge. To make the investment that best fits your clinic’s needs, consider the following questions:

Q: What other equipment criteria need to be considered?

Is a cart-based or portable system the best? If you have a mixed practice, you might want to consider a portable system with a battery power option that can go into the “field”. However, are you willing to subject your new system to the rugged demands of in-the-field large animal work? Would a refurbished one be better? Do you need the same capabilities in the field as you need in the clinic? Some portables are as sophisticated as cart-based in-the-office systems. Are you willing to pay for a more comprehensive warranty to cover potential machine damage, if you can get it?
Archive data management must also be considered. Will you be transferring your data to the offi ce computer; archiving data for future use and referral; or sending data elsewhere for evaluation and consultation?

A business investment

Purchasing an BMV ultrasound system should be considered a business investment, not an expense. Ultrasound services represent a billable charge to your patients’ owners, while improving your diagnostic capabilities.
Depending on the demographics of a clinic’s customer base, and the complexity of the scan, veterinarians charge anywhere from $100 to $400 for an ultrasound procedure.
For the sake of this analysis, let’s say each customer is charged $150. Let’s also assume your practice does two scans a week.
$150 per procedure x 2 procedures per week x 50 weeks per year = $15,000
If you purchase a system for $30,000, the ROI is two years.

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