What type of ultrasound and what type of transducer should I buy? That is something many people wrestle with once they have decided to begin using an ultrasound.
There are many choices out there for ultrasounds, and not all are the same. First thing to consider is the image quality that the ultrasound provides. This is a big one, because if you can’t see what you are scanning, you might as well be palpating. This is also where you see the biggest differences in prices among ultrasounds. The cheaper machines usually provide very poor images. You get what you pay for. You might think you are getting a deal, but you will pay for it in the long run by missing things that will make or cost you money.
For those of us that use their ultrasounds on cattle, there are other factors to consider that most people using an ultrasound would not have to worry about. One thing is the durability of the machine, and this is a big one when you are scanning cattle. We put these machines in precarious situations when we stick them inside the rectums of cattle. Weird things can happen and you want a machine that can tolerate the occasional abuse that is sure to happen. Another harsh thing on the machine is manure, which can eat away and destroy some of the best built things, and ultrasounds are no different. You might think you are getting a great deal buying a cheap ultrasound and cheap transducer (the part that goes inside the cow which sends and receives the sound waves of the ultrasound), but if you are getting it fixed or having to buy a new one frequently, your cost savings are quickly eroded. We are oftentimes outside in a dry lot pen or chute when we are scanning cattle and they don’t always provide shade. An ultrasound screen can be very difficult to see when in the sun. One way to overcome this is to use an ultrasound that provides goggles to be able to see the screen more clearly in the sun. It gets back to image quality. You might have the best image, but if you can’t see it, it does you no good.
One last thing to consider is what type of transducer to buy. I will talk about transducer choice in my next blog entry.