This year saw the launch of the new ScanPad+ ultrasound machine – to the delight of some, and the dismay of others. It followed months of Coronavirus-induced supply issues, as parts suppliers of the original machine fell by the wayside or suffered unprecedented delays. This was by no means exceptional during this time, and was a phenomenon that affected supply chains all around the world. This was compounded by a surge in demand from online companies, overloading shipping and delivery companies, which only added to delays.
The only way to continue to produce the ScanPad was to raise prices significantly, and so VIS (the creators of this machine) decided that the only viable option was to introduce the ScanPad+. This machine saw the introduction of a number of improvements that North American clients, in particular, had been asking for.
Key differences between the ScanPad+ and ScanPad
The main goal behind the creation of the ScanPad+ was to change as little as possible. The ScanPad is arguably the best selling ultrasound machine for small animal pregnancy scanning worldwide, and the number of imitation products both at home and abroad is a testament to its success. For that reason, the software, main board and transducers remain completely unchanged in the new unit. The main differences are:
- Much sturdier case: This is something that people who tend to scan outdoors had been asking for for years, particularly goat breeders in the USA and dog breeders in Canada.
- Custom-made carry case: Finding an appropriate carry case for the ScanPad was always problematic, so the ScanPad+ can be ordered with a case designed especially for this machine.
Above: Original ScanPad (left), and the new ScanPad+ (right), launched 2020.
What about the ScanX?
The ScanX ultrasound machine is a new product that will officially launch in January 2021, although a few people have taken advantage of currently discounted pricing to buy theirs now (current lead time of one week). The aim of the ScanX is to improve upon two main weaknesses of the ScanPad or ScanPad+:
Portability: Some people argue that the increased robustness of the ScanPad+ comes at a price: it’s a bulkier, heavier machine than before (4.8kg / 10.5lbs). In addition, the battery life of the ScanPad series has never been impressive, nor is it meant to be. The battery is there as an emergency backup for a machine that’s designed to be run from the mains. The ScanX, in comparison, is super lightweight (well under 1kg / 2.2lbs), with a battery that will keep you scanning for at least five hours.
Service and repair: The collapse of global supply chains during the first wave of the Coronavirus pandemic was a huge wake-up call. In countries like the UK, USA and Canada, we rely heavily upon trade with other nations, and when component suppliers cease trading, increase prices or shipping gets delayed, it causes major problems. While the interconnectedness of our world means we can never eliminate this completely (nor would we want to), there are steps we can take to improve things:
1) On the computing side, the ScanX is powered by systems designed and supported by big companies with a strong presence in the United Kingdom and North America (e.g. Microsoft).
2) The ScanX software is coded and supported from right here in London.
3) Training and technical support can be delivered remotely, from London and from our amazing Clayton in Brazil who is on the same time zone as most of our American clients.
4) Our high resolution transducers are assembled and printed in Surrey, England.
This reduction in the number of external components also means that there is less to ‘go wrong.’ No more waiting on spare parts – both the tablet and transducer are individually warrantied and, in the event of a malfunction under warranty, you would simply receive a replacement. If your tablet device were ever to fail outside of warranty, the fantastic thing about the ScanX is that the software can be installed on any Windows or Android device, enabling you to carry on scanning.
Of course, the ScanX won’t suit everyone. One of the most popular features of the ScanPad range is the huge 15″ screen – something that is inevitably lost on a more portable unit (the ScanX screen is 10.5″). You can learn more about the ScanX Ultrasound Machine here.
Comparison of a feline kidney imaged first with a microconvex (at 5.2MHz, with harmonics turned on) and then with a linear probe (at 12MHz) on the Siui Apogee 1000 Lite.
Below is the same structure in a French Bulldog, imaged on three leading ultrasound machines, all of which are popular for abdominal scanning in small animals – and particularly for canine pregnancy scanning.
This highly portable machine is popular with fertility clinics and well-established mobile pregnancy scanning businesses who demand the best.
The below image was taken with harmonics turned on, at 4.5MHz.
The ScanX ultrasound machine comes with its own software app, allowing you to run it off any Windows laptop or Android device.
This was taken with a microconvex probe, at 6.5MHz.
The Elite 5600 is a popular entry level machine for dog pregnancy scanning due to it ease of use, reliability, and excellent image quality for a sub-£2000 scanner.
It was set at the highest frequency available with its default convex probe (higher frequency microconvex probes are available upon request).
We generally think of mechanical sector scanners as outdated technology. Yes; they’re still on the market and popular with people needing an ultrasound machine for pregnancy scanning on a limited budget, people who are new to scanning and unaware of the limitations of this technology, and a handful of loyal affectionados who simply want to stick with what they know. Compared to when I first began working with ultrasound ten years ago, though, they’ve very much fallen out of fashion.
Even their last remaining stronghold – farm use – is in sharp decline. Old school sheep scanning professionals with their trusty twenty year old machines are beginning to retire, and veterinarians who have scanned for decades have almost all updated their ultrasound machines at this point.
It came as a surprise to me, therefore, to read in the journal ‘Theriogenology’ that a mechanical sector rectal probe outperformed a linear array for ovum pickup in cows. Granted, the paper was published in 2004 and the resolution of electronic transducers is now far better, but even so, the fact that a mechanical probe allowed visualisation of a greater number of follicles under 5mm in size was surprising. How is this possible, when the spatial resolution of probes with electronic beamforming is invariably superior to fixed-focus mechanical probes?
Rather than having better resolution, it is likely that the mechanical sector probe is simply more practical for this application due to its wider field of view, allowing for better positioning and therefore visualisation of the ovary. Indeed, the authors report that previous studies found “a restricted view of some portions of the ovary using a linear array transducer.” Thus, the lower follicle count is likely not due to resolution, but to the ease of interrogation of the structure.
It is also worth noting that the researchers controlled for frequency, i.e. they set both transducers at 5MHz. However, one of the main strengths of electronic transducers is that they have a range of frequencies, and increasing the frequency on the linear array transducer may have improved performance.
What this study does highlight, however, is the fact that there is still a place for mechanical sector technology for niche applications, even if they’ve lost their place for mainstream uses like canine pregnancy scanning. Mechanical sector scanners like the MSU3 offer a tough, robust option for pig pregnancy scanning, for example – and also operate at just the right frequencies for this job.
Bols et al., 2004. A comparison of a mechanical sector and a linear array transducer for ultrasound-guided transvaginal oocyte retrieval (OPU) in the cow. Theriogenology 62(5):906-14.
Portable ultrasound devices are ideally suited for lung ultrasound, as they can be more easily disinfected between patients than full sized trolley-based machines. Machines like the Apogee 2300 and Apogee 1000 Lite have been at the forefront of lung imaging in China during the outbreak, and we will begin to see an increase in interest and demand across Europe. The Apogee 2300 has been extensively used to assess the lung, as well as to provide guidance during intubation and to avoid puncture injuries in patients in critical shock. This is the machine we have used to illustrate this article.
The most common findings so far reported in COVID-19 patients are:
- Consolidated lung
- An irregular pleural line
The best transducer types for lung ultrasound are phased array and convex probes. Linear probes can also be used, but will lack penetration much further than the pleura.
Normal lung ultrasound findings
In normal patients (as well as in other conditions like asthma and COPD – but not COVID-19), the bright white echogenic pleural line will be reverberated down the screen. Each A line is equidistant from the next.
In normal patients, lung ‘sliding’ can be seen with regular breathing. This is the parietal pleura sliding against the visceral pleura.
- B-lines: In patients with interstitial pneumonia and diffuse alveolar damage, B-lines will be seen. There are vertical lines which arise from the pleural line, and extend all the way down the screen, obscuring A-lines. Their number increases with decreasing air content. At least 3 B-lines must be seen between a single rib space for a positive diagnosis. See Gargani (2011) for example images. With pulmonary oedema, B-lines are seen universally, but a characteristic of Covid-19 appears to be its patchy distribution. It is important, therefore, to check the patient from multiple views.
- Thickened and irregular pleural lines have been reported in COVID-19 patients, which may also be accompanied by lack of sliding. There may also be hypoechoic (dark) regions within the pleura.
- Consolidated areas of lung have also been reported. This is also referred to as ‘lung hepatisation,’ because the lung appears similar in density to the liver. The alveoli become filled with fluid, allowing the ultrasound energy to pass through without excessive scattering and loss, returning to the probe to create an image.
Pleural effusions are less common in Coronavirus patients. If you discover pleural effusions, first consider an alternative diagnosis.
Gargani, L. (2011). Lung ultrasound: a new tool for the cardiologist. Cardiovascular Ultrasound, 9.
Free one-hour interactive foundation course on echocardiography basics, designed for those with no previous experience. By the end of this course you will be able to recognise major landmarks from two key windows.
Register below to be sent a link to start your course. With online access, you can start your course any time and anywhere.
The four introductory modules include:-
- Say hello to the heart – Get familiar with the Apical 4-chamber view
Surveying the heart – Learn the Right Parasternal Long Axis and Outflow views, from where you can quickly spot significant cardiac disease
Turning 90 degrees – Learn to interpret the Right Parasternal Short Axis view
- Revise and test your knowledge through both short questions and our interactive echo labeling system.
This introductory course focuses on 2D imaging, meaning that almost anybody can get started right away – even if you do not own a machine with a phased array probe or Doppler capability. The views you will learn can even be obtained with a standard microconvex transducer.
If you have any questions about the course please contact us here
Meet your course authors:
Catherine Stowell is an Echocardiographer and Research Sonographer, and has been teaching ultrasound to veterinarians for over 8 years. She scans in a veterinarian-led echo clinic at Anderson Vets in Orpington.
Darrel Francis is a Professor of Cardiology at Imperial College, London. He has a special interest in echocardiography and in methods of teaching the technique. He is keen for the learning experience to be interactive and dynamic: learning through thinking and doing, not just reading or listening.
Fill in the below form to gain online access to your course. We need this information for your certificate.
The course is sponsored by Portable Ultrasound Machines. We take your privacy seriously and will not share your information with 3rd parties.
Watch Replay: Infectious Disease Control in Goats
The Animal Ultrasound Association was recently joined by guest speaker, farm animal disease expert David Harwood BVetMed, FRCVS to talk about Infectious Disease Control in Goats.
Watch the webinar replay to learn:-
- Valuable facts about infectious disease and how they can be introduced into a herd of goats (biosecurity).
- Relevant topics for goat keepers including Listeriosis, abortions and parasitic gastro-enteritis (worms).
- How to recognise, treat and prevent infectious disease.
- Answers to your questions – which we’ve posted to the bottom of this page
Who should watch
This webinar is relevant to goat keepers all over the world whether farming many goats for profit or keeping a few goats for pleasure.
Q & A Session
Question 1: You were discussing toxoplasmosis abortion and had a graphic on the effects of infection before and during pregnancy. On that slide, you mention that infection at around 50 days post-breeding (if I’m remembering correctly) causes the doe to be “barren”. The way I understand that is that she can no longer carry any pregnancies and is sterile. Is this what you meant?
- Answer: Thanks for asking this question – and it has made me think about the wording on this graphic. The word “barren” in this case means “this pregnancy,” – i.e., the doe / ewe conceives, the embryo develops, but is killed by the toxoplasma insult – and the doe is no longer pregnant. Immunity to the toxoplasma parasite will be strong, however – and the doe / ewe should be able to conceive again in future matings – so is not “barren never to conceive again.” Will change the wording to make this clearer.
Question 2: We don’t have any other livestock but a lot of deer go across our land as we border the forest. Are these likely to be a source of infection?
- Answer: This is a question we are often asked, and to a certain extent it depends where in the country / world you are based. If we consider gut parasites / worms – then the risk will be minimal. Most deer will carry low levels of worms, decreasing with age as immunity develops – so their egg output will be low. As they are “passing through” – the amount of faeces and hence eggs they will pass out into your paddocks will also be low – and importantly, as they are wild and not treated with wormers, any eggs they deposit are most likely to be of worms still sensitive to conventional wormers (and not resistant).In the UK – and in particular in those areas where there is a background problem with bovine TB – deer could be infected with the TB organism – but to put it in perspective so will badgers in the locality. Badgers are multipliers of TB infection – and will readily shed the organism in urine, faeces and sputum. Deer although infected are low volume shedders – better to spend time and money keeping badgers out rather than deer!No real other risk factors that I am aware of!
Question 3: Is there a precaution we should take when pulling in a new ram or buck as far as abortions?
- Answer: Bucks and rams pose a potential – but very low risk. Considering the causes we discussed last night:
Enzootic abortion – possible but very low risk of carriage of the organism in faeces. Try to source where possible from farms / smallholdings that are accredited – we do have some in the UK for example, or where the owners vet is able to certify that no cases of Enzootic abortion have been encountered in the past few years. Blood testing may be worth considering – but likely to yield false negative results, as low-level infection may not result in antibody production.
Border Disease – is one I did not discuss – but would be my main risk factor from the males perspective. Blood testing here would be a definite necessity – and I would want any male to be Border Disease virus (BDV) antibody and antigen negative. The biggest risk is the male that is persistently infected with this virus – and the blood test would confirm this status.
I would not consider the male to be a risk for any other cause – but our advice would always be to:
1. Only purchase directly from a reliable source – avoiding males that have gone through a market system (where other infections could be picked up).
2. Place in quarantine back on your farm (could be a small paddock separate from nose to nose contact with other animals (10-metre separation) for a minimum of 2 weeks – 4 weeks preferable.
3. Monitor for any signs of illness – foot infections, mange etc.
4. Consider blood testing for CAE, Johne’s disease, CLA, EAE?
5. Give quarantine wormer dose.
6. Incorporate into farms vaccination programme – e.g. Clostridia.
If you have any questions for David please email us here
Related information: Online training in Ultrasound for Goat Pregnancy
The Animal Ultrasound Association run a comprehensive online course which includes
- Basic ultrasound physics
- Types of reflectors
- Goat scanning technique
- Quick and easy tips for image optimisation
- Performing measurements and calculating gestational age,
And much more
Each module includes text, diagrams, ultrasound images and tutorial videos. For full details click here
Last week, we put the Apogee range of scanners through their paces on a farm in Warwickshire. We tested the Apogee 2300 and Apogee 1000 Lite against the Sonoscape S6 – the scanner we’ve customised and supplied for lamb and beef meat grading work for the past seven years – which has recently been discontinued by the manufacturer.
The Apogee 1000 Lite, as the name suggests, is a slimmed down version of the Apogee 2300. As such, it wasn’t expected to perform as well, but we were interested to observe the differences. It was felt that that the Apogee 1000 Lite could certainly do the job for those on a budget, but larger organisations who need to provide the highest quality imaging and measurement accuracy as possible would almost certainly want to go for the Apogee 2300.
The Apogee 2300 performed excellently, which supported what we’d already observed from our testing in Switzerland. Here are a few example photos and scan images from our day on the farm:
These tests were performed with the small-footed linear probe. For optimal results, we suggest the linear probe with the larger footprint. Contact us for more information and to discuss the needs of your project.
Images from the Apogee 2300, specially adapted for lamb meat grading:
Direct Digital Radiography- The Mano Medical® Flat Panel DR System
Is Direct Digital Radiography for me?
Direct Digital Radiography is perfect for all veterinary practices, due to a wide range of available systems. Digital Radiography is suitable for equine, small animal practices and mixed practices.
What are the key benefits of The Mano Medical® Flat Panel DR system?
• The immediate rendering of high-quality images, at the point of care, quick retrieval and instant availability of images have made Mano Medical DR system the gold standard for X-raying animals.
• The Mano flat-panel DR imaging pre-programmed anatomy information allows for the machine to be ready before an animal enters the room; then the animal only needs basic positioning.
• Digital Radiography allows for seamless workflow and instant acquisition of X-ray images. This in return provides a better working environment for staff and creates a less stressful environment for the animal.
The Mano Medical® Flat Panel DR System
The Mano medical DR system is considered the most cost-effective route to going Digital, the system is compatible with your existing X-ray generators. The DR panels fit directly into the X-ray Bucky system and transfer images instantly to an integrated PC. No changes are made to your existing generator, which means you do not need to replace your X-ray table, wall stand or grids.
How can I find out more?
If you would like to find out more and discuss options for your practice, please contact a member of our team on 0208 402 1562 who will be happy to talk you through our range.