Top of the line vascular ultrasound systems are usually also top of the line cardiac systems. The best high-end vascular systems are the Philips iU22 and the GE Vivid E9. Both are excellent cardiovascular machines. The main difference between the iU22 and E9 is each brand’s unique workflow and user interface. Both Brands expect that users are already familiar with and prefer their interface, but in reality both workflows are very smooth and differences are minor. Philips recently released the new Epiq 7 and 5, both are completely reengineered top tier ultrasound systems set to replace the iE33 and iU22. Early versions of a new model often experience some software issues and command a price premium for the first year. Till then kpi considers the iU22 and the Vivid E9 as the best high-end vascular ultrasound machines for price for performance. Even if the iU22 is surpassed by the new Epiq 5, you can bet the falling price of late model iU22’s will make them a terrific value. KPI rates both the Philips iU22 and GE Vivid E9 as top in the “BEST” or top-of-the-line vascular ultrasound segment.
Mid-range vascular ultrasound machines make up the bulk of ultrasounds sold to hospitals and imaging centers. These mid tier systems have less of the top of the line features, while maintaining excellent image quality and a broad set of features. The Philips HD11xe and HD15 have been tremendously popular vascular unit and and even though production is ending in 2014 these will continue to be good values as late model refurbished systems for years to come. KPI picked the HD15 which as a used unit costs only a little more than the HD11xe but which provides features and vascular image quality nearly at the iE33 level, including the use of the single crystal “Purewave” probes. These units will be replaced in late 2014 with the Philips Affiniti 70 and Affinity 50 and kpi will evaluate these models as they arrive. The Siemens X300 premium is an excellent vascular machine with a lower cost than the new HD15 or similar price to the refurbished HD15. The only disadvantage to the powerful but inexpensive X300 is the high cost 4D option that is not as good as similarly price GE or Samsung 4D ultrasound systems. But if you don’t need 4D then it’s an excellent alternative to the HD15. KPI considers both the Philips HD15 and the Siemens X300 premium as currently offering the best bang for the buck for vascular ultrasound applications in the “BETTER” mid-range segment.
Entry level ultrasound machines offer good vascular imaging while lowering costs by eliminating features that are less important to the majority of vascular scans. What is surprising is how many features that used to be reserved for high-end systems have filtered down to even premium entry level ultrasound systems. Lower tier ultrasound machines that are produced by high quality brands are often very close in power to midrange systems that cost thousands more. The GE Logiq P5 is a premium economy ultrasound machine with options for 4D, elastography and of course CW doppler and ECG. In this form the shared service Logiq P5 provides very good image quality with a wide range of potential applications. The Philips HD7xe from Philips offers similar but slightly inferior image quality but without as broad a set of optional applications like elastography and 4D. Both as new systems or 1-4 years old, these two entry level ultrasound systems offer vascular image quality approaching mid-range power. In the collective opinion of the experts at kpi both the GE Logiq P5 premium and the Philips HD7xe currently offer the best price to performance ratio in the”GOOD” entry-level segment.
Portable vascular ultrasound systems now compete nearly on par with similar entry and mid-level console style units. The portable ultrasound segment has grown with distinct top-of-the-line, and mid-range as well as low-cost portable systems. Portable vascular ultrasound is not only useful in emergency situations, but also for mobile scanning, as well as in small offices and for doctors that must travel from clinic to clinic. The most advanced portable vascular ultrasound system currently on the market is the Philips CX50 which offers all applications except 4D OB/GYN and uses single crystal Purewave probes for higher image quality. The GE Vivid-i offers excellent mid-range performance and is well known and well respected. The Vivid-i, as is true with all the Vivid line from GE does not support OB/GYN applications but is a cardio vascular specialist with general imaging capabilities. The GE Logiq-e is a great value as a 1-4 year old system as it offers vascular imaging quality comparable to the more expensive GE Vivid-i, but with a wider set of potential applications with excellent OB/GYN and MSK imaging as well as vascular and GI. KPI recommends the Philips CX50, the GE Vivid-i, and the GE Logiq-e as the top value portable ultrasound systems based on their performance for the price.