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Mini C-Arms vs Full-Size C-Arms

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“Should I be shopping for a full-size C-arm or a mini C-arm?” It’s no surprise that this question comes up almost daily. With most technologies, smaller is better. Bluetooth streaming from cellphones has replaced bulky, multi-disc CD changers and tablets have taken the home computer down to the size of a manila envelope. On top of the convenience, space is money. So why not try to save every square foot you can?

This logic makes perfect sense, but only under the right circumstances. In the area of C-arm technology, it’s important to remember that there are some limitations that come with the reduction in size the mini C-arm offers. Here is a quick look at what a mini C-arm can and can't do: 


What Mini C-Arms Can’t Do

The biggest factors that limit mini C-arms are the lower power level of their generators and the physical size of the arc of the C. A mini C doesn't have enough power to penetrate thicker portions of anatomy like the torso or the thigh. The arc of its C also doesn't have sufficient clearance to accommodate those parts of the body.

Plan on shopping full-size for these procedures:

  • Spine studies
  • Torso studies
  • Pain management
  • Peripheral vascular studies
  • Anything larger than a shoulder or knee (even then, it can depend on the size of the patient)

What Mini C-Arms Can Do

  • Hands and feet (these are the “bread and butter” of the mini-C)
  • Limited shoulders/knees
  • Limited orthopedic studies

The Takeaway

In the end, it really comes down to what type of studies you intend to do at your facility. If you specialize in extremity work, the mini C-arm might be a great choice to save you money and space without sacrificing functionality.

If you intend to do spine, torso, or vascular work but are still short on space, there are full-size C-arm models with smaller footprints than some of the more commonplace systems. Let us know your needs and we’ll be happy to help you find the best combination of footprint and C-arm function for your facility.

Download the C-arm Buyer's Guide