Finding the best general imaging ultrasound machine
General imaging was the first category for ultrasound machines and designates an ultrasound machine that can provide imaging for the general or most common types of diagnostic exams. A general imaging ultrasound machine can provide good images for abdominal, vascular, musculoskeletal, small parts and urology applications.
Probo Medical, which owns Ultrasound Supply, has been the largest distributor of general imaging ultrasound machines for many years and has built technical and applications team to evaluate, test, compare, review and recommend ultrasound machines based upon their features, reliability, image quality, and price.
The purpose of this buyers guide is to help medical professionals quickly determine the general imaging ultrasound machines with the best value or price to performance ratio. Which general imaging system is best for you will depend upon your needs and your budget. Ultrasound Supply has divided the available general imaging systems into five price/feature segments:
General imaging ultrasound machine categories
The most advanced, top of the line systems, but also the most expensive.
Most, but not all of the features of the premium segment at a lower cost.
The most commonly purchased systems with some premium features.
Basic systems with less advanced technology but at the lowest price.
Range from High-end to Economy, but less expensive than consoles.
The best premium general imaging ultrasound machines:
Recommended systems: Philips EPIQ 7, GE Logiq E9, Philips iU22
If you need the very best image quality, and all the latest features and price is not as important then the premium general imaging ultrasound segment is for you. Luminary doctors, top hospitals, research facilities and educational institutions should all consider the premium general imaging ultrasounds that best fit their focus. In general imaging there is no clearly dominant brand. GE is most well known for its 4D for OB/GYN while Philips provides ultrasound machines with a stronger cardiovascular focus. General imaging does not require either of these applications, but is a description of the most common applications used in diagnostic ultrasound; typically abdominal, vascular, MSK, urology, and pain management. None of these applications require more specialized imaging hardware or features, but occasionally a Radiologist will need these peripheral applications as well and premium general imaging ultrasound machines can provide them all. One feature almost always exclusive to the premium segment is fusion technology that merges ultrasound images with images from other modalities to allow better study of regions of interest. This advanced feature is available in both the Epiq 7 and Logiq E9. The GE Logiq E9 is perhaps the broadest in appeal with amazing 2D GI image quality, amazing 4D, and even excellent cardiac function. The Logiq E9 is a proven, reliable platform with a host of transducer options and features. The Philips Epiq 7 is newer, has a larger monitor and is more compact, but at this level where there is very close feature parity your choice is more likely to be the based on the workflow you and your staff are already comfortable using. The Philips iU22 is the previous generation top-of-the-line, but though no longer produced it offers excellent value to those who need a premium ultrasound machine but have some price sensitivity.
What to expect from a premium general imaging ultrasound machine:
Amazing image quality in B/C/D and Fusion
Scan any body type with deep penetration, clear margins & detailed resolution
Large 20” or larger ultra high-quality LCD monitor & tablet-like touchscreen
The most advanced technology providing superfast processing speeds
Urology package for brachytherapy
Powerful automatic image optimization and auto measurement
Semiautomatic or automatic quantification tools
Top grade productivity with ergonomic & intuitive system design
The best high-end general imaging ultrasound machines:
Recommended systems: Philips EPIQ 5, Philips Affiniti 70 and GE Logiq S8
The high-end general imaging ultrasound category is very similar to the more expensive premium category, but with the removal of a few top of the line features and probes in order to create a lower-price point with nearly the same power. General imaging ultrasound is meant to cover a wide range of the most common scans needed by doctors in order to diagnose and direct treatment. Image quality and workflow efficiency are the focus but at this price point the feature depth and probe quality are also excellent. Hospitals and Imaging centers or Radiologists in need of the best image quality, but also with the need to justify expenses should consider high-end general imaging ultrasound machines. Depending upon what secondary applications will be the primary focus, a general imagining ultrasound will typically have 2-3 transducers, but if cardiac or 4D for OB/GYN are also needed then they may require more. High-end general imaging ultrasound machines will have 20” or larger monitors, touchscreens, advanced image optimization, the latest hardware as well as full measurement, calculation and reporting packages for each application needed. GE and Philips offer the best blend of image quality, efficient workflow, extreme reliability and broad application capability. The Philips Epiq 5 is typically a premium ultrasound system, but for general imaging it needs fewer options and probes and falls in price to high-end levels. It functions as a premium system and offers the best image quality and a particularly strong cardiovascular focus as well as general imaging capabilities. The Philips Affiniti 70 is a lower cost version of the Epiq 5 and looks nearly identical. It borrows many of the same features and hardware as well, but offers an even better price. The GE Logiq S8 is a very compact and mobile system that is strong in GI and especially strong in 4D for OB/GYN. The Logiq S8 offers both matrix and single crystal probes, something rare at this price point.
What to expect from a high-end general imaging ultrasound machine:
Amazing B/C/D image quality, little difference with premium level
Excellent image quality on a broad spectrum of patient body types
Most advanced hardware like premium category but no 2D array matrix
Prioritized for workflow efficiency over research focused features
Very large 20”+ monitors, articulating arm & touchscreens
Automatic image optimization and auto measurement
Great for difficult patients: deep penetration, clear margin definition & detail
The most common ultrasound machine segment is the midrange general imaging ultrasound machine. This is because general imaging is the most common application set and the midrange price point is the best balance of price and performance that most hospitals, imaging centers and private practices choose. Midrange general imaging ultrasounds typically use the more common convex, linear and endocavitary transducers though occasionally at this price point cardiac and or 4D for OB/GYN applications are also available. Spatial compounding, speckle reduction, and needle enhancement technologies are common at this price point. No one brand dominates this application segment or price point. The amazing Philips Affiniti 50 provides the best image quality and the most advanced up-to-date hardware along with a deep set of quality transducers. The predecessor of the Affiniti 50 is the Philips HD11xe, one of the best selling midrange general imaging ultrasound machines in the past decade. Though no longer manufactured, the HD11xe remains a good value with the largest selection of transducers of any general imaging ultrasound machine in the midrange segment. Both the Affiniti 50 and HD11xe offer strong general imaging and cardiovascular function with the largest monitors in the segment. The GE Logiq S7 is a scaled down version of the powerful Logiq S8 that offers a strong GI, OB/GYN focus with optional 4D. The Logiq P6 meanwhile is less expensive but like the S7 offers a large amount of features for a midrange general imaging system. Consider the GE Logiq P6 or HD11xe if you’re looking for the most features for the dollar. Consider the Affiniti 50 if image quality is most important to you. Consider the Logiq S7 if you may also need a midrange general imaging ultrasound machine with 4D.
What to expect in the midrange general imaging ultrasound machine:
Good to excellent 2D & Doppler image quality
Perform all routine exams for diagnosis and practice
Cost effective platform balancing cost and performance
Usability and workflow are good, but some hardware limitations
Automation provided at a lower level than the high-end segment
17-20” LCD monitors, often with articulating arms
Full measurement package for all application types
General imaging ultrasound machines do not require as many high-end features as ultrasound machines optimized to other applications. Because of this the economy general imaging ultrasound category does a good job of providing everything that is necessary and not loosing too much in image quality to bring the price down to economy levels. If you are a radiologist, general practitioner, or physician specialized in MSK (musculoskeletal) in a private practice or with a low budget then the economy general imaging ultrasound segment will be perfect for your needs. All brands have good GI products and no one brand stands out from the other in this category. The Philips ClearVue 550 offers the best image quality in the economy general imaging segment, however the ClearVue 550 has only 4 probe options. The ClearVue 550 offers the biggest monitor in this segment and has the newest, fastest hardware. The GE Logiq-P5 premium is much the opposite. It is an older design using more dated hardware and probes, but it has the largest selection of probes among the economy general imaging ultrasounds. The Siemens X150 sits somewhere in-between these two opposites in terms of probe options. The X150 does not have the 4D expandability of the Logiq P5. The articulating monitor arm and wireless image transfer are unusual features at this price point. For those who like the Siemens workflow, the X150 offers an inexpensive alternative.
What to expect in the economy general imaging ultrasound machine:
Acceptable image quality
Usability and workflow slowed by some hardware limitations
Cost-cutting platform that emphasizes price over features or image quality
Auto IMT helps vascular patients improve in long-term care
Image optimization and auto measurement improve exam speeds
LCD monitor smaller than 20”
Auto image optimization auto color and Doppler are important options
Wireless image transfer between the system and a PC
Independently steerable and lockable wheels
The best portable general imaging ultrasound machines:
Recommended systems: Philips CX50, Samsung HM70A, GE Logiq e
General Imaging or GI portable ultrasound machines vary in price and features from the high-end to the economy. Price determines image quality and feature depth in most cases. Mobile image centers, emergency medical personnel, or Radiologists that need to share a single diagnostic ultrasound machine between several rooms or even several locations will find a portable general imaging ultrasound perfect for their needs. In exchanged for small size and lightness, portable ultrasound machines typically have only a single transducer port (unless paired with a multi probe connector cart) and some limitations in hardware power though this is much less of an issue in general imaging applications where the difference may not even be noticeable. General imaging typically relies on 2D, and Doppler without the need for more expensive 4D imaging or the high frame rates of CW Doppler. Good image quality, a breadth of probe choices and features such as needle visualization or enhancement however are useful along with a smooth workflow that speeds up each exam. The Philips CX50 is recommended as it provides the best 2D image quality in a portable ultrasound machine and has a broad range of probes. The CX50 is a high-end ultrasound machine, but the price is a value as the image quality is at premium level. The midrange general imaging Samsung HM70A has good image quality and a broad range of probes and potential applications including needle enhancement. If you needed 4D or full cardiac the HM70 can be upgraded to that as well. The GE Logiq e is an economy ultrasound machine. It excels at MSK 2D imaging and has need guidance as an option on newer revisions. It also offers a surprisingly broad set of transducers for many different applications.
What to expect in the portable general imaging ultrasound machine:
Amazing to good B/C/D image quality (at higher costs better imaging is expected)
A large number of probe choices to cover many potential uses
Pediatric and neonatal specific transducers offer an advantage
Lighter units with longer lasting batteries (>1 hour) have the advantage
Up-to-date system hardware and software
Technology migration is common from the premium & high-end segments
Automation & simple workflow is important for “punkability” in a portable