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DOTmed Industry Sector Report: Portable X-ray

by Joan Trombetti, Writer | August 13, 2009
Philips Practix Convenio
This report originally appeared in the July 2009 issue of DOTmed Business News

Portable X-ray equipment travels anywhere and everywhere in and outside of hospitals, clinics, veterinary offices, coroner and dental offices, nursing homes and even on battlefields. The units range from handheld to slightly larger, yet still easy to carry, box-like units that can be transported in the back of a van and even to stand alone units that are wheeled from one place to another in a hospital.

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Probably the most exciting advancement in portable X-ray technology is the transition to DR (digital radiography). However, the transition has been slowed by the weakened economy. In terms of spending on equipment, portable X-rays aren't usually a top priority. Many facilities want to convert, but are making due with their current systems during the economic downturn - keeping them on-board with proper maintenance, or refurbishing when necessary.

The consensus from companies dealing with new and refurbished portable X-ray equipment is that DR technology is superior to conventional film-based systems or CR (computed radiology). The DR systems are much faster and present what many feel to be clearer images than the older methods.

A GE AMX 4 partially
disassembled for service
at Managed Medical Imaging

Leon Gugel, President of Metropolis International, LCC, sees cost as a major factor prohibiting many health care facilities from transitioning into DR portable X-ray imaging. "In terms of technology, GE and some small independent companies have come up with digital portables that are great," says Gugel. "But their cost is still too high for almost everyone, except for the largest health care institutions." A new portable digital X-ray machine can cost over $200K.

Sal Aidone, Vice President of Deccaid Services, Inc., Deer Park, NY agrees with Gugel. "I believe the portable X-ray industry is stable, because bedside X-rays will always be needed." He says that the possible increase in sales for the future will someday be in digital portables. There is a positive side. "The DR panel can keep a portable in constant use, especially if the hospital has a WiFi system, where the images can be sent from anywhere in the hospital," Aidone says. This eliminates the need for a technician to return to develop the X-ray, or manually transport it from one location to another. Aidone believes that if digital portable X-ray prices fall - there will certainly be a boom for the industry as many facilities are likely waiting to jump onto the digital bandwagon.