Last week, I visited a prominent East Coast University to train their vets on their new system: the Mindray DP-6600 Vet (also available for non-vet).
For those who aren't familiar, the DP-6600 is a small, portable black-and-white ultrasound system from the emerging company Mindray. The price is a HUGE factor, and the system, as I found out, is pretty good.
I'd never seen it in-action as a vet ultrasound, but since I'm getting increased calls on it, I thought I'd share my experiences.
In a nutshell: Overall, I was happy and surprised by the image quality of the machine. If you're looking for a solid black-and-white vet system, this is something you want to look at.
Top seven benefits of the DP-6600 (most of which apply to the human system as well):
- Solid imaging. We scanned horse tendons while I was training the folks at the University, and I must say that the near-field resolution was better than I expected. No shaving necessary. The vets at the University were impressed. For human use, I'd done some MSK scanning on myself at the office and also found it to have solid imaging capabilities.
- Lightweight. obviously an important factor for most vet situations. Not as small as other systems, but it feels pretty solid and like it might take some abuse in the barn without worry. It was small enough to handle but not too small.
- Relatively easy to use for basic scanning. The boot time is quick, and shut down is easy. Gain is easy to access and typically it has 128-frame cine review so you can freeze and review the image if you need to go back and capture an image.
- Digital Storage to USB, Hard Drive, or Network. This is nice, particularly for the University setting where images can be transferred via a jump drive.
- Cost. Simply put, it's really inexpensive and makes it hard to look at anything else.
- Durability. We've sold quite a few and I don't think we've had any calls except for needed assistance with understanding how to really optimize this ultrasound.
- IP. This is their set of image optimization presets within the applications. While I'm sure it is overlooked by 90% of users, they really ought to play with it a bit. This feature allows you to quickly optimize your image without messing with a lot of the internal controls. I mean, seriously, I can count on one hand how many people have shown interest in adjusting Dynamic Range, Greyscale maps, persistence, frame averaging, etc. I teach it in most applications settings, but most users give me blank stare... and sometimes they'll blink once or twice to let me know they're alive. I just ask them what their preferences are and base presets off that.
To the point, though, for those applications in which Physicians, Vets, and in point-of-care operations where the user may not be a trained sonographer... the IP and other settings really are a blessing to those folks. Frankly, most sonographers prefer it as well.
HOWEVER, there are some negatives, as there always are, when it comes to this inexpensive system. You are definitely trading some of the nice bells and whistles to get a good cost on this ultrasound.
It's important to note that most of these "negatives" can be overcome. But don't rely on the manual to get you there.
Top Six Annoyances:
- The operating system. This is the heart of nearly every issue I found on the system. It can be inconsistent, and if you don't understand all the principles of ultrasound and how the computer works, you'll go mad trying to figure out how the things I've listed here.
- Defaults on vet applications. Some are fine, and the musculoskeletal applications on Equine were fine. However, for fertility, the maximum depth we could set it to was about 15cm.
This is a problem. A local Vet had come to our office a couple weeks ago, and she immediately removed this from her list of ultrasounds because of this limitation. Bummer, she liked it otherwise, and we did too.
But Low and Behold, I found a way to get more depth. You CAN increase the depth/penetration on all the probes, but you have to dig, dig, dig to find it... and when it's found, it doesn't appear to be an editable option. But it is. Rejoice, equine fertility is back on the radar and you can control this depth from the main interface thereafter.
- Menus/customization: Again, it's the operating system. There are quirks to it that can be annoying, but after a couple days you'll get accustomed to it. If it's frustrating, remember what you paid and your pain should subside.
- Cine Review. 128 frames. If you're scanning at 64 frames/second, you don't have much time to get from the animal to the Freeze button, particularly if you've got your arm in the part of an animal where the sun does not shine. This, too, can be overcome, but it's not a default preset. It requires some knowledge of how the ultrasound works and making some adjustments that would make your image better anyway. Rejoice, this limitation is overcome, and you can set the system to always work this way :-)
- Battery and Trolley. There is no battery, and the cart, while inexpensive, isn't exactly an easy-roller in a barn. It IS light, which makes it easier, but I don't see it holding up to a lot of abuse. The limitation of no battery means you may want to keep an extension cord handy.
- Inconsistencies in user experience/operation (not related to image quality). This goes back to menus and operating system. Clearly it was designed with the image quality first, and the user experience second. I'm fine with that, because it only takes a little time to get acclimated. Again, these are annoyances and not absolute negatives.
Summing it all up:
I recommend it. This is basically my reaction to all the Mindray systems. On a tight budget, you're going to get a good imaging system that takes time to acclimate. Not knowing computers or the system's true capabilities that are hidden, you'd definitely want applications training, which we can also provide to you.
You'd have to say that you get more than what you pay for here. All things considered, you'll get a new ultrasound with a good warranty that provides what you need at a good price. Image quality, the most important factor, doesn't disappoint. 80% of the "annoyances" can be overcome, and most would be ignored by fertility (human and vet) and those doing MSK work or otherwise.
When set up properly, there's little more to do than Boot and Scan. I should receive the larger DC-6 Color system later this week, and I'll try and get my hands on it long enough to get a review on it.