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Veterinary Ultrasound Part I – Introduction and Requirements

As the healthcare industry for animals continues to grow, a good ultrasound system has become inevitable for veterinarians. Read this article and learn about the different veterinary ultrasound requirements for large versus small animals.

The healthcare industry for animals is ever-growing. A good ultrasound system has become inevitable for all healthcare providers. We can understand the varied requirements of veterinary ultrasound by making a distinction between the needs of large versus small animals. 


Large / Farm Animals 


Veterinarians almost always make house calls for large / farm animals such as horses, cows, pigs, etc. As travel is an important aspect of their job, lightweight and portable equipment is necessary. Moreover, the current trend is to move away from laptop-style machines to more handheld/tablet-style ultrasound machines which can be worn easily. The weight of these machines varies from two to twenty pounds. Additionally, good battery life is expected to complete the task in one charge (without the need to recharge the battery). 


Most of these machines have long-lens rectal probes of 60 to 70 mm which can produce clear images, thereby making pregnancy detection easy. With high-quality imaging, it is easy to determine the sex and issues, if any, with the pregnancy. 


Small / Pet Animals 


Small / pet animals are usually brought to the veterinary clinic for exams. The pet ultrasound equipment is very similar to human ultrasound machines. These ultrasound machines are used to examine an animal’s liver, kidneys, stomach, intestines, prostate gland, bladder, and uterus. They are also extremely useful in detecting pregnancy and determining the health, size, and growth of the fetus. 


To perform these tasks, a high-quality ultrasound image with color doppler and black/white ultrasound is essential. The current trend is to move away from bulky ultrasound carts to slim, easily portable carts and handy laptop-style machines. 


Based on the information above, we can categorize the requirements of the veterinary ultrasound market into the following categories: Portable and Robust Systems, High-Quality and High-Intensity Image Systems and Reliable Systems.

Learn more by clicking on each category.

Why Change? 


Large animals are generally located on farms. To work well in such environs, the ultrasound equipment is required to be rugged and durable, to withstand water, dust, high temperatures, and any unforeseen fall. Also, it is important to note that working with big farm animals is strenuous work and hence, user-friendly and easy to handle devices are critical. 


Why Now? 


Over the years, the veterinary ultrasound machines have transitioned from bulkier cart systems to rugged laptops. Currently, the industry is moving towards more handheld ultrasound machines. The image to the right clearly demonstrates this transition. 

 Why Microchip? 


Microchip provides high-channel-count and high-channel density products in small packages that enable compact and integrated solutions. With our advanced design and process technologies, we are able to get high channel density High Voltage (HV) Muxes, in very small packages. For example, we have a 32-channel HV Mux in a 9x9 mm2 Quad Flat No-Leads (QFN) or Ball Grid Array (BGA) package. Our advance Bumped-Die (BD) packaging technology also enables a smaller size, such as a 16-channel Mux in approximately 5x5 mm2 package. 


Microchip has a strong portfolio of 8- and 16-channel Integrated HV pulsers. These pulsers have integrated features like T/R switch, Return To Zero (RTZ) circuit, protection diodes, clamping diodes, etc. which eliminates the need for discrete components around the board, saving precious real-estate, and allowing designers to have small, compact solutions. Some of our HV pulsers even have integrated beamforming functionality built-in. It allows the system designer to use a low-cost, less I/O pin FPGA and reduces multiple signal routing between the Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) and the pulser. 

The image to the right (green) shows how much PCB area can be saved using a 16-channel integrated HV Pulser (HV7358) versus an older single channel HV Pulser (HV748). 

[A] 16-channel Pulser Demo board implemented using a single 16 ch integrated HV Pulser (HV7358) 

[B] 16-channel Pulser demo board implemented using 16 1channel HV Pulsers (HV748) 

Learn more about other veterinary ultrasound requirements by clicking on each category: High-Quality and High-Intensity Image Systems and Reliable Systems.

Jesse Nichols, Jan 29, 2020