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Special report: Mobile C-arms

by Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | April 09, 2014
International Day of Radiology 2012
From the April 2014 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine


When vendors are creating a new C-arm, there is a balance that needs to be struck between image quality and dose. “We need to make sure that we are striking that balance and trying to tip it more in the practitioners favor and the patients favor by providing the image quality we can at the lowest dose possible,” says Philips’ Hudson.

Siemens’ Cios Alpha, is also equipped with this technology but the difference is that it’s the only mobile C-arm that uses Full View FD technology. This new technology enables the collimators to track the image rotation in order to get 25 percent more image coverage.

It also has what Siemens calls the Retina Imaging Chain with Intelligent Dose Efficiency Algorithm dose reduction, which optimizes the dose and enhances the image quality. “It’s a new way of creating better image quality with the FD device, while keeping the doses low as possible,” says Siemens’ Patel.

Not so fast
FPDs have been proven to improve image quality and reduce radiation dose, but experts say they still haven’t been widely adopted because they are so expensive.

Based on an InMedica market forecast report from November 2012, image intensifiers for 2014 are estimated to cost in the range of $70,000 to $120,000 and FPD are estimated to range from $150,000 to $200,000.

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“We’ve got a lot of hospitals that are largely happy with what they’ve got although they’ve realized some of the limitations that they have with the distortion and so forth,” says Hudson. Hospitals agree that FPD would be nice to have, but they are not going to go out of their way to get a new C-arm, he adds.

The goal to lower costs in a tight economic environment has also caused many hospitals to turn the other way.

“We know all the impact the Affordable Care Act is having on the industry—folks are looking more and more toward reducing the costs of health care and looking at total cost of ownership,” says Hudson. Philips is currently looking to find ways to get around the cost issue in order to get a “win-win for everybody involved.”

The way they are trying to make that happen is by positioning the C-arm as a multipurpose system, meaning that it can be used in a variety of different procedures from orthopedic to cardiovascular surgery. So the goal is to cover hospitals’ needs with a small fleet of 10 to 15 C-arms, depending on the size of the facility and its procedure volume.

Another reason that Philips believes the Neo offers efficiencies that outweigh the cost is the fact that it can accept video from an endoscope and ultrasound. Clinicians can see the X-ray image and ultrasound or endoscopic image side-by-side.

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