Things to Consider Before Buying a C-arm System

If you recently considered purchasing a C-arm system, you might be gearing up to open up a pain management center, or you might just be looking to expand your services to add surgical procedures. So, we decided to compile a quick knowledge base to help you choose the right type of C-arm and also the brand.

Deciding to acquire a C-arm is simple enough, but choosing which one is right for your practice can get a little overwhelming. Without having adequate knowledge, the search process can become information overload with the wide variety of brands, sizes, and costs involved.

In the end, the deciding factor comes down to what type of imaging work you intend to do at your facility. If you specialize in interventional pain management services, cardiac or orthopedic services, then we recommend that you go all out and get the full-size C-arm.

To simplify things and help guide you on the right path, keep these questions and ideas below in mind while you shop around.

1.) Size: How big is too big?
Yes, size does matter. C-arms come in different sizes, as we mentioned before. Knowing the size of the image intensifier you need is always a good initial step. You should also know whether the size of your power generator is strong enough for your procedures. For example, a 15 kW generator will penetrate deeper than a 7.5 kW generator. (Remember, a bigger sized “C” makes it easier to work with larger patients.). These mobile fluoroscopic units should be maneuverable around hospitals and provide positioning flexibility. While a great C-arm depth may be preferable, it can also make the maneuverability a bit more difficult.

2.) Image Quality
Higher resolution C-arms provide sharper images that are generally easier to read. The resolution of a C-arm varies greatly, and the more lines per inch, the sharper the resolution will be. However, not all procedures require the highest resolution, so it is best to test out different types to see which C-arm gives you the best quality based on the procedures you will be performing. Remember, taking great images won’t mean anything unless you have the correct storage device for image capture; Printer, Medicapture or Dicom for PACS system are all great options available to add to your C-arms purchase.

3.) Warranty
The equipment is only as good as the warranty. A C-arm service plan with a warranty is a must; be sure the coverage includes parts and labor, as well as travel time. Keep in mind, some plans may exclude x-ray tube and image intensifiers (which happen to be the two most expensive parts to replace). At some point, be prepared to have service done to the system; whether it is routine maintenance or a larger repair issue, make sure there are reliable service engineers that can come out to work on your system immediately.

4.) Site planning/measuring
Measuring out the intended site where you plan to place the C-arm is crucial to selecting the size and type of C-arm. Make sure the C-arm is housed in a room that provides enough clearance so you can manipulate the C-arm to get a better view without having to move the patient. The room should accommodate the C-arm system you select, with correct wall and ceiling clearance. You should also have plenty of space to maneuver around the system. The mobile C-arm’s lower portion must be low enough to fit underneath the hospital’s beds and operating room tables. If you plan to stow away the C-arm during non-business hours, make sure there is proper clearance between hallways and doorways.

5.) Free space
Allow for adequate free space. There should be a certain amount of free space for the area between the image intensifier and x-ray tube. You’ll need to be able to adjust it for the best possible image output. If the system you are looking for is expected to be used on a high volume of patients, then you will need a rotating anode tube, which will help result in less time for cool-down.

6.) Software for your hardware
You will require specific software packages based on the procedures you perform. For example, if you are doing procedures that involve veins, you will need a vascular package. Try to aim for the most up to date version of the software, so you get the most out of usage and image quality. Crisp, clear image resolutions will help physicians better navigate the needle.

7.) Last but not least…
Make sure you know everything that is covered and included with the system you purchase, including set up service, shipping, and warranty coverage. Do not spend more than your budget, a used or refurbished c-arm is just as capable and can cost 30-40% less than a brand new C-arm. If you’re looking into a refurbished C-arm, ask to get a full list of which parts were replaced and repaired, and the refurbishment process your particular unit went through.

Now the next question you’ll ask yourself is: where do I buy a C-arm? Well, you can stop scratching your head, because at Pacific Healthcare Imaging, we have a great selection of C-arms and C-arm tables in stock! Please contact us here or give us a call at 877-283-3154.