If you are considering getting an ultrasound machine to add to your existing medical equipment inventory, one of the first factors to examine is the cost implication to your medical facility. Ultrasounds vary largely in price, but fortunately there is a machine for every budget. There is an extensive, nationwide inventory of ultrasound machines available both new, used, and refurbished that will serve your clinical needs. The prices are broken down into categories based on the quality (low-, mid-, and high-tier) and condition (used, refurbished, and new) of the system:
Apart from the quality and condition of the system, the features and applications of an ultrasound machine are factored into the wide price range. To increase understanding between the differences in price for each system, we are going to break down the main features of an ultrasound machine.
Ultrasound Machine Cost Factors
An ultrasound machine has two main components: the mainframe and the probe. The mainframe reconstructs the data created by the probes and is comprised of the user interface, computer, and display. There are three main types of mainframe styles— console, portable, and ultraportable—they differ based on the amount of processing power the mainframe can handle; the more processing power, the more expensive the machine. Each system will also come with its own price point and varying accessories that depend on the software and hardware available for it.
For example, console mainframes with better graphics cards and more computing power that allow for faster and more detailed imaging will be more expensive than those with less. Portable mainframes that can be further broken down into portable and ultraportable categories are less expensive because they trade processing power and mobility for accessibility and a lower price point. Between these two, portable ultrasound systems are about the size of a laptop. Ultraportable systems are closer to a cell phone in size. Both are excellent choices for point-of-care situations, but you will encounter fewer ultraportable mainframes because they are relatively new to the market.
No matter the type, the mainframe for all ultrasound machines utilize probes that come with a harmonic crystal, lens, and receiver. The crystal emits an ultrasonic frequency (sound waves) that bounces off the different layers of the body and then goes back to the receiver. As for the probes, they come in a couple of different varieties that include:
- Linear probes that use a focused beam for detailed imaging
- Convex probes that use a wide beam for diagnostic use
- Intracavity probes that are popular in OB/GYN studies
- Transesophageal probes that act like an endoscope with an ultrasound probe at the end
Each additional probe can range from $500 to $5,000, with standard probes costing less than $1,000 and higher-end probes ranging from $3,000 to $5,000. Some probes, like a TEE probe, can cost even more, reaching prices in excess of $35,000 when bought new. Similar to probes are optional software applications that can extend an ultrasound machine’s capabilities. For example, an OB/GYN specialist may want to buy a 3D/4D convex and live baby face imaging to improve their offerings. Other applications include:
- Spatial compound imaging
- Advanced speckle reduction imaging
- Speckle reduction imaging
Apart from the probe and the machine itself, the price of the ultrasound machine includes other costs like basic installation, training, delivery, and maintenance agreements. Maintenance agreements vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but they generally include cleaning, servicing, and repairs.
An ultrasound machine’s price, like that of other medical equipment, will depend on multiple factors that result in a total cost that can be as small as a few thousand dollars or as high as a couple hundred thousand. When acquiring one, considerations have to be made to ensure you are getting the machine you need at a price you can afford. A system’s condition, mainframe type, probe attachments, additional software options, and basics like delivery, installation and maintenance agreements will all play a part in the price.