27 Jan

Portable Ultrasound Machines Awarded Best Sales Growth Award

Portable Ultrasound Machines wins international Siui award

Finger On Pulse Ltd. (PortableUltrasoundMachines) is delighted to announce that we have been awarded Siui’s ‘Best Sales Growth’ award for 2021. Our most popular ultrasound machines during the 2020-21 calendar year were:

  • The Apogee 1000 Lite, highly popular for mobile abdominal scanning and for veterinarians requiring a system that delivers high quality abdominal and cardiac imaging, all in the one machine.
  • The Apogee 2300 ultrasound machine, our top choice for cardiology, providing unrivalled performance in its price bracket.
  • The CTS-800 ultrasound machine for equine and bovine scanning.

 

2022 sees the introduction of the new Apogee 2100v, which fills a gap between the Apogee 1000 Lite and the Apogee 2300. Like the Apogee 2300, it offers two transducer ports and an HDMI output so that it can be connected to an external monitor, but at a much more affordable price than the higher-end Apogee 2300.

We are excited about what 2022 will bring, and the new customers we will welcome this year. We pride ourselves on the ongoing support and training that we offer, provided by true experts in the field of ultrasound. It is our mission to ensure that you always get the most out of your equipment. If you are thinking about upgrading your current machine, or even purchasing your first machine in 2022, please contact us for help and advice.

06 Jan

iSperm for semen analysis

The iSperm mCASA – The Next Generation Semen Analysis Device

 

A semen analysis is a fundamental step in assessing an animal’s reproductive potential. Whether you are a breeder, work in a veterinary practice, or a researcher working with endangered species, performing semen analyses will be a key component of your working life.

Pre-existing options for semen analyses are poor. Manual assessments are inaccurate, time consuming, and require extensive training before competency is reached. Computer assisted semen analysis (CASA) devices are bulky, expensive, and almost impossible to move from one location to the next.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could have a fast, reliable, and portable semen analysis device that didn’t cost the earth?

We are thrilled to offer you the iSperm mCASA. The iSperm mCASA is the next generation in semen analysis devices. Sleek, compact, and cost-effective, the iSperm mCASA can be easily transported between locations, giving you reliable results every time. Read on to see how the iSperm mCASA could improve the accuracy and efficiency of your semen analyses.

Easy to Use

Manual semen analyses are difficult and require years of training for competency to be reached. Existing CASA devices are bulky and have a poor user interface, making them tricky to use.

The iSperm mCASA takes the confusion out of semen analyses. This device is simple to use, all you need to do is place the semen onto the specially designed chip and insert the chip into the heating system and microscopic lens. The user-friendly operating system will guide you through the steps and help you and your team generate accurate results, every time.

Cost Effective

The extensive training required for competency in manual semen analyses is time-consuming and costly. Manual analyses also require numerous expensive consumables like microscopes, glass slides, coverslips, and heated stages. If you opt to use a standard CASA device or spectrophotometer, you’ll have to invest a hefty sum of money into the purchase, running, and maintenance of the machine.
We understand that cost is a big factor when deciding which semen analysis device to use. The iSperm mCASA is available at a price point which is lower than most competing CASA devices. With its simple to use interface, the iSperm mCASA saves you money on initial purchase costs, training, and consumables.

Accurate Results, Every Time

The main issue with manual analyses is that they are not very accurate. Because we’re human, even the most highly trained operator can have off days and make mistakes. Manual analyses often show high inter- and intra-operational variability meaning you can never be 100% confident in the accuracy of your results. Some people choose to use a spectrophotometer to help them find the concentration of a sperm sample. Unfortunately, these devices are easily confused, and may identify other cells as sperm. The result of this is an inaccurate reading and an untrue representation of an animal’s fertility potential.

The iSperm mCASA has been validated for accuracy against standard CASA devices, haemocytometers, and nucleocounters, performing comparably every time. This device can assess concentration, total motility, progressively motility, and advanced sperm kinetics like velocity and swimming patterns with ease. The labeled sperm tracker lets you clearly see the progression of each sperm, giving you a more comprehensive idea of an animal’s reproductive capacity.

Time Saving Equipment

Undertaking a manual semen analysis is a time-consuming event. If you have a lot of analyses to complete, it can take up much of your day and not allow time for your other important tasks.
The iSperm mCASA is quick and easy to set up, giving you accurate results in as little as 1 minute! This means you can process multiple samples in the time it would take to process one sample manually. The iSperm mCASA allows for rapid assessment, giving you and your team time to focus on your other important tasks.

Fertility-Tracking Technology

One semen analysis alone is not sufficient to predict a male’s fertility potential. This is because sperm parameters, like concentration and motility, are variable and can alter between different analyses. Sperm quality can change over time in relation to external cues like stress, diet, and exercise levels. When considering an animal for breeding, it’s usually recommended to complete at least two semen analyses to get a good overall idea of their reproductive potential.

If you’re undertaking a breeding management programme and trying to improve a male’s long-term fertility, frequent semen analyses will be essential. This will allow you to track the changes in their sperm quality and predict their potential for siring offspring. Previously, if you wanted to track changes in sperm quality over time, you would have to spend hours manually inputting datapoints into a spreadsheet. This is time consuming and there’s the possibility for inaccurate data entry.

The iSperm mCASA allows you to store data easily and efficiently. This device produces simple to understand graphs that let you visualise changes to fertility potential over time, without the risk of inputting error.

Variety of Species

Many CASA devices are programmed such that they can only be used to assess the semen from one type of animal. This is because there are subtle differences in the appearance of sperm from different species. For veterinary clinics and breeding programmes that treat creatures from across the animal kingdom, this isn’t convenient. Wouldn’t it be great if one device could assess the fertility potential of a variety of animals?

The iSperm mCASA has been optimised to analyse sperm from a variety of companion, livestock, and endangered species. The list of animals that can be analysed by the iSperm mCASA is constantly growing, and currently includes:

• Bovine (e.g., cows, bison, and buffalo)
• Canine (e.g., domestic dogs, foxes, and wolves)
• Caprine (e.g., goats)
• Equine (e.g., horses, and zebras)
• Murine (e.g., mice, gerbils, and rats)
• Ovine (e.g., sheep)
• Swine (e.g., domestic pigs, and wild boar)

Easy to Transport

The heavy, cumbersome equipment associated with manual semen analyses and classical CASA devices are almost impossible to carry between locations. If you’re constantly on the go, you’d have to choose between lugging large equipment between locations or holding on to multiple semen samples to be assessed back at the lab. The former is inconvenient whilst the latter increases the time between ejaculation and analysis, which can reduce semen quality and give an inaccurate representation of reproductive potential.
The sleek, portable design of the iSperm mCASA allows you to perform semen analyses in the field. Weighing less than a laptop and the size of an iPad, you no longer have to compromise convenience or the accuracy of your testing results.

Interested in the iSperm mCASA, or would like to learn more? Get in touch! One of our experts would be happy to take you through the specifications and get you booked in for a demo.

03 Jan

Thinking of upgrading your ultrasound machine?

A new ultrasound machine for 2022?

For many of us, 2020 and 2021 have been emotionally pretty tough. For those of us in the animal health industries, they have also been two of the busiest years in memory. If you managed to take a breather during the Christmas period, you may now be thinking about how to make the last 24 months of hard work count. Reinvesting in bringing your business and skills to the next level  is a great way to future-proof your business, and ensure your clients continue to choose you.

If you offer ultrasound as a service, you may already have noticed that clients are beginning to expect more from an ultrasound scan than ever before. If you have outgrown your current machine and would like to offer a more advanced service, including confident use of colour Doppler, it could be time for an upgrade. The Apogee 1000 Lite is becoming an increasingly popular upgrade option due to its stunning image quality, high-quality Doppler, and the support and training available with it from true ultrasound experts.

 

 

Save hundreds of pounds off a new machine

We can save you hundreds of pounds off your next machine and help you to bring your scanning to the next level. Contact us today to find out how much you could save by trading in your current machine.

23 Dec

Siemens Juniper Ultrasound Review

Siemens Acuson Juniper

Veterinary ultrasound review

The Juniper ultrasound machine from Siemens can be equipped with any software package and probe configuration you can think of, but for the purpose of this review, we test-drove this machine for small animal echocardiography. There are three transducers that are suitable; as we happened to only have small-medium sized canines in the clinic that day, we used the 8V4 each time.

The major drawback of the Juniper is immediately obvious: its size. The vast majority of our clients prefer portable ultrasound machines over cart-based systems (hence our website name!), but it seems that if you’re looking for a high end ultrasound system that can do everything, a cart-based machine will give you much more for your money. Incidentally, if you are only looking for a cardiac machine, the far more portable P500 will deliver comparable performance for echocardiography. It cannot yet be equipped with a microconvex probe, however – so if that’s a must for you, and you like this level of image quality for well under £30k, you’ll need to make space for the Juniper (still, against traditional cart-based systems, the Juniper is considered slim and lightweight).

 

High resolution imaging

If you’ve been performing cardiac scans on a mid-range scanner, you will know that clearly visualising all three leaflets of the aortic valve in cats and dogs is frequently not possible. On a normal valve, they’re simply too thin. With the Juniper, we were able to obtain textbook-quality images of the aortic valve in its short axis, very easily – beautifully displayed on the machine’s 21.5″ LED monitor.

 

 

 

Automated Doppler measurements

The Juniper automates E and A measurement point placement, left ventricular outflow tract and aortic velocities, and so on. However, like all commercial systems, it relies on the presence of an ECG trace. A good ECG trace is not always obtainable in fractious patients.

 

Dicom as standard

As you would expect from a premium manufacturer like Siemens, images and video clips are saved in Dicom format as standard (you can also export them in jpg and avi format if you prefer). This never used to be important to me until my echocardiography clinic started getting busy, and I end the day with several reports to write. It makes such a difference being able to perform all my measurements here on my laptop, and not have to keep running back over to the ultrasound machine to take more measurements. It took me ages to find the right dicom software to be able to use for my offline reporting, so if you’ve also been looking, please feel free to get in touch and I can tell you how I am doing it!

 

Quiet

Ultrasound machines, whether portable or cart-based, are notoriously noisy. High-performance machines, in particular, tend to have very powerful (and loud) cooling fans. The Apogee 1000 Lite is one such example, and can sound a little bit like a plane taking off when booting up! The Acuson Juniper, however, is advertised by Siemens as being 40% quieter than the average ultrasound system. By “average,” Siemens presumably mean other machines within a similar price and application bracket. When compared with your average veterinary ultrasound machine, the Juniper is noticeably quieter, and 40% may even be an underestimation.

16 Dec

Ultrasound machines for camelids

Ultrasound machines for scanning alpacas and llamas

If you keep and breed your own llamas or alpacas, you may have thought about scanning them or having them scanned to check for pregnancy. If you haven’t before, you definitely should. Putting the female with the male and watching for her reaction (“spitting off”) is not a reliable method unless you have only a few animals who also happen to have a normally laid back personality. More feisty animals will be inclined to spit or run away from the male regardless of whether or not they are pregnant, and while they may accept him later on if not pregnant, you are not going to want to stress a potentially pregnant female by leaving her in with the stud for an extended period of time.

The only way to know for sure if your alpaca or llama is pregnant is from an ultrasound scan. The problem for a lot of camelid farms, however, is that mobile scanners can be reluctant to offer the service. This could be for several reasons:

  • If you do not live in an area popular for other types of farm animal abdominal pregnancy scanning, such as an area with a lot of sheep flocks, you may simply have nobody skilled or confident enough to do the job.
  • Even if you do live in an area serviced by a mobile scanner, they will often find it uneconomical to scan for you. Sheep scanners are used to scanning 100+ animals per session, which makes charging only a few pounds per animal worth their while. Canine pregnancy scanners tend to charge around £45 per scan, which likely makes them unaffordable for most farms. This puts llama and alpaca farms in a bit of a ‘no man’s land,’ and it’s not uncommon to hear of owners struggling to find a reliable local scanner, with stories of being frequently let down.
  • Scanning camelids is difficult! They do not lie on their backs and wag their tails like dogs, and they are not lined up neatly inside a crush like sheep. They have to be caught and they then struggle, spit, and often try to lay down to stop you from touching their abdomen. They usually carry in the right horn, but not always, so sometimes a more thorough check is required. Finding the cria is not always straightforward, either, and in earlier stages of pregnancy they are often close to the uterine wall, requiring a lot of probe manipulation to bring into view.

 

Should I buy my own ultrasound machine?

There is no getting around the fact that an ultrasound machine is a big investment. Yes, there are cheap options out there, but alpacas and llamas are not easy animals to scan. You need every advantage you can get, and clear imaging is something you can control from the outset. Saving money on a machine purchase will cost you money in the long run in ambiguous scans that you have to keep repeating, loss of confidence, and ultimately abandonment.

Consider what having an ultrasound machine always on hand would be worth to you. Think not only of the money you spend or would spend on scans, but other benefits which are less easily quantifiable. For example, do you have a strong social media following and rely on support from the general public or other enthusiasts? If so, what added excitement and engagement could sharing images of unborn crias add?

 

How much does an ultrasound machine cost?

You should budget for at least £3000 for a scanner which is capable of the image quality you will need to scan camelids. The ScanX or Apogee 1000 Lite are both ideal, tried-and-tested choices. Alternative machines are available but be very mindful of who you are purchasing from. You need a machine that has been field tested and proven to work with llamas and alpacas. Scanning camelids is challenging and highly specialised, so don’t buy from a company that is not able to provide you with evidence that they actually know what they are selling you and can support you in its use.

 

Ultrasound for alpaca pregnancy scanning

Above: The ScanX being field tested with alpacas in Kent.

03 Dec

Chip Shortages Begin to Bite

How much will ultrasound machines cost in 2022?

Electronic chip shortages are no longer news. From car manufacturing to home appliances, most of us are now familiar with the ways in which supply chains are being affected. In July, I wrote about how this was beginning to affect our own industry, with early casualties such as Celestron microscopes completely off the shelves for what will be over 12 months. Lead times on ultrasound machine manufacturing have steadily increased, with waiting times on some models now up to three months.

The other concern is inflation. The worldwide shortage of electronic chip manufacturers, and the overwhelming demand for them, has been steadily pushing part prices up throughout 2021. Machines which are created in the UK using globally sourced components, such as the ScanX ultrasound machine, are more resilient to this due to greater control over the supply chain. For machines manufactured solely in China, however, buyers can expect to see price rises in 2022. This will be due not only to the fact that ultrasound machines will become more expensive to manufacture, but also because companies must now tie up their cash for several months before they can even expect to receive any sellable stock.

 

Buyers beware

It is becoming more important than ever to know and trust the company you choose to supply your ultrasound equipment. The lack of availability of high quality, known brands, will undoubtedly mean that some companies attempt to cash in on the shortage with cheap, low-end scanners that they are able to overcharge for.

I speak to so many customers who lament the fact that they rushed into buying something from a company who were not experts in ultrasound, just because they had it in stock and the customer was excited to get started and not able to wait. This feeling is perfectly relatable, but a better option would have been to speak to their preferred supplier and find out what alternatives they could offer, rather than settling for an inferior product at an extortionate price that they are ultimately going to be unhappy with. What’s worse, a lot of the times, these companies will take the sale for an ‘in stock’ item and then notify you after receiving payment that there will be a significant wait time.

 

What this means for you

So far, our ultrasound clients have not been impacted by chip shortages and associated delays. This is because:

  • Very few of our models of ultrasound machine are ‘off-the-shelf’ products made entirely in China
  • We receive preferential access to parts due to our long history and strong reputation in the industry
  • While we can never perfectly predict the future, we do our very best to plan for it and protect our customers from disruption.

We have also kept our pricing steady, with no price increases on any ultrasound machines bought from us directly since 2019. With the cost of production set to increase by £150-200 per unit in 2022, small price increases next year may be inevitable, but what we can promise is that our pricing will always be fair and transparent – you will never be overcharged.

All of our ultrasound machines also come with our expertise thrown in for free – for life. That means that you can pick up the phone and call us, send us an email, find us on online chat or send a WhatsApp message any time, and an expert will get right back to you with an answer.

 

16 Nov

How to connect your Apogee 1000 Lite to an external monitor

Connecting your Siui Apogee 1000 Lite to an external monitor

This guide is for connecting your Apogee 1000 Lite to an external monitor that has an AV output. The Apogee 1000 Lite does not have HDMI. If you require HDMI (external monitor image will be higher quality) and do not need portability, the Apogee 2100v or Apogee 2300 are good alternatives.

Important notice: This method will only work if you have a television with an AV output. It is possible that the very latest televisions do not have such an output. Please check your external monitor before purchasing any cables.

Here is the cable you will need (composite RCA):

Note: The above is an Amazon associates link. 

 

How to do it:

1. On your scanner, press ‘setup’ and choose ‘function setup’, then ‘video setup.’ Make sure PAL is selected (not NTSC), and that ‘On’ is ticked.

2. Plug the yellow cable into the back of your ultrasound scanner, into the ‘video out’ port. The red and white are for audio, so it is important that it is the yellow you are plugging into your scanner.

video out

 

3. Plug the yellow (or all three) ends into the back of your external monitor. The yellow one must go into the yellow socket.

yellow video in

4. The AV (Composite Video) input source needs to be selected on the TV and the aspect ratio (screen format) needs to be 4:3. Every television is different, so you may need to consult your manual or search online.

AV input for Apogee

5. If your ultrasound image is not displaying on your television, you may need to restart your machine.

 

Note: The TV display will show the scan area only, as when you press the ‘full screen’ button on your scanner. Your settings and client’s name will not be visible.

 

Televisions without an AV input will need a different solution. This will be posted in a few days.

23 Sep

Celestron not producing TetraView until May 2022

TetraView microscope out of production

Last month, Celestron announced that they will not be manufacturing the TetraView or PentaView microscopes until May 2022 at the earliest. This is extremely disappointing as, up until June, they had been promising delivery by the end of July.

All customers currently waiting on the TetraView are advised to find alternative products, and buyers should be vigilant about any company taking orders for the TetraView at this time. The industry is now fully aware that there is no stock being delivered until next year. This applies to companies in the United States as much as in the United Kingdom – it is a worldwide supply problem. You can read a previous discussion of the long-term supply chain impacts of Covid in our industry in this article from June.

 

Alternative microscopes for cytology

After consultation with industry experts, we have sourced an alternative with the correct lenses needed for cytology. This microscope has been on the scene for a while already, but not with the ideal lens configuration. We have been testing the ScopeX Cytology Microscope with our customers who have been waiting on the TetraView, and are delighted to report that feedback has been extremely positive. We have also set up a new, dedicated Facebook group here for sharing images and experiences from the ScopeX and iSperm microscopes.

 

21 Aug

ScanX launches new automated cloud backup feature

ScanX ultrasound machine can now save your videos to the cloud

Users of the ScanX® can now have their images automatically backed up to the cloud so that they can access their files from any device.

How is the ScanX® revolutionising video saving?

The ScanX® allows you to save extra long video clips (example below). Clips of over 15 seconds in length are unheard of in scanners sold for under £6000, yet the ScanX® can save clips up to 40 seconds in length. This saves you from having to repeatedly save multiple clips for your clients and then piece them altogether afterwards.

What’s more, with the new automatic syncing feature, you don’t have to worry about uploading your scans in order to share them. They’ll already be there on Google Drive for you, accessible from your mobile phone or laptop at the click of a button.

 

If you’d like to be one of the first to try out this new feature, please send us a quick email to book yourself in for your upgrade. This will be done remotely and does not require you to do anything except for you to give our engineer permission to connect to your device.

12 Aug

Thinking about opening a 3D/4D baby scan clinic?

Can I open an ultrasound clinic?

If you already have your own space from which you are offering medical and beauty treatments, you may be considering adding a pregnancy scanning service for women. Before you go investing over £20,000 in an obstetric ultrasound machine (and for the type of machine being used by sonographers in the NHS, expect to spend a minimum of £50,000), you need to think seriously about the service you plan to offer.

Many aesthetics clinics employ nurses and other medical professionals to deliver regulated or more invasive treatments, and it’s important to remember that obstetric ultrasound is no different. Ultrasound involves sending energy into the body, and in the case of pregnancy scanning, you are directing that energy towards a human being at their most delicate and vulnerable time of life: the unborn baby.

The British Medical Ultrasound Society (BMUS) stresses that ultrasound should be used by trained professionals for diagnostic purposes only, and not for entertainment value (i.e. taking “pretty pictures”). This is unlikely to deter people from seeking 3D and 4D pregnancy scans, however, which at the present time are rarely provided by the NHS – hence the rise of private clinics offering this service.

There is nothing wrong with helping people to celebrate and commemorate something that, to them, is one of the happiest events of their lives, but it is equally important to do this while keeping them, their baby, and your business safe. “A trained professional” in this instance can be no other than an obstetric sonographer, and such an individual will know the correct settings to use at different stages of pregnancy, maximum safe exposure times (as well as being proficient enough to be able to obtain the required images quickly), and will also know how to spot signs of foetal distress or an abnormal pregnancy for instant referral.

An unqualified individual – however well-meaning – would not know any of these things, and such a scan may provide false reassurance to a client who uses your service in place of making an NHS appointment. The ethical and legal ramifications of this need no elaboration.

Ultimately, if investing tens of thousands of pounds in an ultrasound machine, it just makes sense to employ a sonographer to perform the scans. The average hourly rate of an obstetric sonographer in 2021 is £60/hour, but you will not have to invest anything in training them up, they will be able to get the most out of your new machine, and you will be able to sleep at night.

If you need help or advice in choosing the right ultrasound machine for your business, please contact us.