To date there have not been any official guidelines set up by the FDA or the medical industry to identify the definition of “refurbishment” as it pertains to medical imaging equipment. So, when you’re in the market for a used C-arm, it is particularly important to define in writing what a supplier means when they are offering you a refurbished C-arm because not all refurbished C-arms are created equal. Because definitions of "refurbished" vary from supplier to supplier, we thought you could use a few tips to help make sure you don’t get anything less than you bargain for.
Refurbished C-Arm Basics
True C-arm refurbishment should should start with full dismantling, disinfection and internal cleaning of the equipment. This is crucial. C-arms are used in invasive surgery and urology, which means in virtually every C-arm you will find blood, contrast dye and other bio-hazardous materials that have leaked through and dried in the cracks and crevasses of the system. This can be a breeding ground for bacteria and a liability if proper precautions are not taken. Ask your supplier for a list of their C-arm refurbishment steps. If you are working with an ISO certified vendor, this will be a document that they have on hand. Another option is to ask to visit the supplier’s warehouse. Many brokers don’t actually have a warehouse and will subcontract refurbishment. Others may have a facility but their hesitation to allow you to visit should be a warning sign that something is amiss.
Due Diligence Takes Time
As much as we all hate to wait for a new purchase to arrive, C-arm refurbishment should take time. Everything should be checked from the casters, to cables, to electronics, connections, brake pads, monitors, keyboards, workstation software, removal of previous patient information, and calibrations to name a few things. If your supplier tells you that they’ll begin working on your C-arm after the sale is made, any ETA under two weeks should raise an eyebrow. Remember, most systems will spend several days on a truck in transit to your site. So, unless your system has been completed in advance, that seven to ten day turnaround that seems like such a selling point might suggest that corners are being cut somewhere in the refurbishment process. Block Imaging refurbished C-arms come with an RTI Piranha Dosimeter data report itemizing system performance and calibration specs. Requesting documents like this from your supplier is another way to ensure that important steps aren’t being skipped. These records also come in very handy when your physicist inspects the unit post-installation.
More Than Just a Pretty Face
Paint and decals are generally the final step in the C-arm refurbishment process. There are a few shortcuts you want to look out for here as well. Touch-up paint is not the same as a full paint job and it pays to be careful with that distinction. At Block Imaging we’ve seen paint jobs done with spray cans or hand rollers. There have also been situations where covers were not removed but painted while still on the system. This is a huge no-no and can lead to paint getting through the cover seams and onto the internal electronics. Always make sure you have the right to inspect your finished product or have someone inspect on your behalf. At the very least, ask your supplier to send you photos of the completed unit. Make sure the photos include a shot of the serial tag to verify that you’re getting pictures of the same machine listed on your sales agreement.
So What Now?
After reading this you might be nervous about venturing into the refurbished C-arm world. Don’t be! It is our intent to help you make the best, informed purchasing decision. There are some excellent systems on the refurbished market that bear looking into. We hope this helps you feel empowered about how to do your homework on both the C-arm you are considering as well as the company you’re considering buying it from. Block Imaging has a variety of used C-arms available as-is or fully refurbished as well as a staff of in-house refurbishment engineers. If you need to know more about used C-arms or C-arm refurbishment, please contact us with your questions. In the meantime, here is a LOT more info in our free download: C-arm Buyer's Guide that will prove to be helpful during your C-arm research phase.