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Reloaded X-ray Tubes vs. Reprocessed X-ray Tubes

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Have you ever had someone try selling you refurbished X-Ray or CT tubes? Do you know what the phrase “refurbished tube” means? Your guess is as good as mine, because the idea of “refurbishing” a tube doesn't make a whole lot of sense. A CT tube (or X-ray tube) that is not brand new can only fall into one of three categories: used, reprocessed, or reloaded. Depending on the work done (if any), each category has its own trade-off of cost for projected lifespan.

In the video below, we'll break down those three categories to help you understand the processes that are really applied to used X-ray and CT tubes and what they mean for tube longevity. A text version is included as well for your convenience.

"Refurbished" X-Ray & CT Tubes: What They Really Mean

Reloaded X-ray Tubes vs. Reprocessed X-ray Tubes

Used Tube

In this category, the tube has been pulled off a working system and taken into a seller's inventory. It will be the least expensive option and may come with a warranty for future performance, but the coverage period is likely to be shorter than warranties on the other two categories of tubes we'll discuss next. 

Reprocessed Tube

Typically, when a tube falls into this category, its insert remains untouched, but the oil inside the tube housing has been replaced and a vacuum device processed out any air bubbles that could cause electrical arcing. This process, if done correctly, could add 20-50% more life to the tube than it would otherwise have. This extra longevity commands a higher price and puts reprocessed tubes in the middle of the used tube range. Some sellers will offer limited warranties on reprocessed tubes.

Reloaded Tube

A reloaded tube has its entire insert replaced with a new one and is processed with new oil. For all intents and purposes, you can consider this to be a new tube and expect it to offer the most longevity of any tube that is not brand-new. Among pre-owned tubes, these carry the highest cost and the most comprehensive warranties.

Three Questions to Vet Your Purchase

If you feel the seller of an X-ray tube is being dodgy on what condition the tube is in or what process(es) the tube has undergone, be careful! Ask these questions if you feel unsure. The answers could give you much more clarity on exactly what you're considering purchasing.

  • Has the oil been replaced recently?
  • Is the insert new or original?
  • When was the tube last in use on a system?

The Takeaway

If we can help you with a tube purchase, even if it's from one of our competitors, just let us know. We understand these are significant investments that you rely on to provide excellent patient care for. We hate to see anyone (even someone who chooses another vendor for their tube purchase) suffer from the time loss, money loss, and stress associated with a failing X-ray tube.

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