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Should I buy a new or used Diagnostic Ultrasound machine?

This is a big question and there are a few things to consider, making sure you get what is best for you.

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We know, everyone has a budget, and you want to get the most for your money. This opens the question and this blog’s purpose is whether to buy a new, reconditioned or used diagnostic ultrasound machine.

You may have heard the phrase, “Buy cheap, buy twice…”

This could not be more appropriate for DUS. However, let’s not forget about VALUE!! Price is one thing, but what are you getting for your money…

The Prices of Ultrasound Systems

Price is the first thing you will notice first when looking into this technology. Diagnostic ultrasound is not cheap – and there is no cheating – you get what you pay for with diagnostic ultrasound.

There is a vast range of prices that depend on several factors like age, brand, model, software/transducers included and condition.

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Apart from the type of machine, for us, the 3 MOST IMPORTANT things to consider when purchasing a diagnostic ultrasound system would be:

1. Getting the right specification
a. What software is included
b. The transducers you need

2. Servicing and warranty

3. Training and educational support

The model type can be loosely classified into 4 categories:

1. Handheld (£3,000-£8,000)
2. Portable (£10,000-£20,000)
3. Entry-level cart-based (£15,000-£35,000)
4. High-end cart-based (£35,000-£90,000+)

Let’s explore the options you have in more detail.

What are the differences in condition?

The language may vary depending on who you speak to. You may hear units being called “ex-demo” or “refurbished” but essentially, the most used terms are:

  • New = Brand new system direct from an official provider
  • Used = Second-hand system from another clinician/clinic
  • Reconditioned = A refurbished or ex-demo system from an official provider

The main aspect to consider is WHO you are purchasing the system from. This has an impact on your warranty and protection – what happens if something goes wrong? Who is liable? Who pays?

We will ALWAYS recommend buying a medical device from an official supplier, especially a diagnostic system, whether it is new or reconditioned!

For medical-legal reasons, when you purchase a system, you are responsible for the system and must ensure it is working how it should be.

If buying used/second-hand from an unofficial supplier, can you guarantee it has been serviced (at least once a year)? Any warranties? Is the software up-to-date? Are the transducers working?

New

Ultrasound guided shockwave treatment on ankle

New systems are…. brand new, shiny and wonderful. And their first user is you, no one else; it is all yours! There is not much more to say really.

Buying new comes with very little risk, but you will pay a higher price, so the only aspect is paying for it. If you can afford it – get new!!

You will get a good warranty and coverage from the manufacturer if anything goes wrong. Depending on the brand, a warranty is typically 1-3 years, but you may have the option of buying an extra year’s warranty.

Used

Used equipment is a broad category. For this, we will categorise these systems as second-hand from an unofficial supplier. You may find these in Facebook forum groups, eBay and other online stores, or maybe a friend of a friend is selling one they no longer need.

These systems may cost you a lot less than going to an official supplier, however, these come with a lot more risk.

You may not get the correct configuration to suit your needs. You may not know the servicing history, and you will get the same specification as the previous owner had, which may not be suitable for you.

In many cases, when devices change hands like this, the parent companies will charge a small fortune to support them. Some will wash their hands of the system completely, so if it does break – you’re out of pocket and have no machine.

It may all sound very risky this way, but if you are on a budget and understand the risks, this can be a great route to DUS.

Useful tip: Find out the brand of the machine and the serial number before you buy – contact the official supplier and see what records they have of it and ask if they can support it if you purchase!

There may be some used systems that you can purchase from an official supplier as they have been sold back to the company/traded in. This leads us into the reconditioned systems.

Reconditioned

In general, reconditioned systems are typically between 2-7 years old.

The great thing about purchasing reconditioned systems is that you can get a system from an official supplier, with some guarantees (not as much as new), but a system that has been cleaned, tested, and checked by qualified engineers.

There is also a high chance you will get it with the latest software and, potentially, new transducers.

In addition, companies reconditioning older or used systems help make the medical imaging industry more sustainable.

Reconditioned or refurbished machines will go through a rigorous process to check functionality.

Any major cosmetic issues will be resolved with new panelling or paintwork, and any parts on the blink may be completely replaced.

If you can find out what work has been done to the system, how old the system is, any previous owners etc. the supplier should disclose this.

You may have the option to pay for additional software components or transducers so you get the spec you need, but a few thousand less than brand new.

There is still an element of risk here. The warranty may be as little as 3 or 6 months, and depending on the age or model of the system, things are closer to being discontinued or you end up limited on how much you can get upgraded.

Overall

The decision is yours, and it depends on your budget and how much risk you are comfortable taking.

We hope this article has given you a little more clarity on what to consider.

The general consensus is to try to purchase a system from an official supplier, but if you find a great deal on a used system – before you buy, check with the manufacturer what details they have on that system!

To find out more about ultrasound specifications, click here.

Or, if you want to know which transducer you should get, click here.

There are also lots of great videos about DUS at Our Academy.

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