Bringing a new (or new to you) X-ray system into an imaging facility can be an overwhelming project, especially if it's your first time. To give those of you who might be wondering a nudge in the right direction, we're going to cover some top considerations to help you choose the very best X-ray equipment for you.
We'll cover functionality, patient volume levels, and placement by clinical specialty. And when you're done here, we recommend you hop over to our X-Ray Equipment Price Guide to learn what you can expect when budgeting for your X-ray system.
Which X-Ray System Is Best for Me?
X-ray machines come in a variety of styles, and each one has its separate strengths. The number of options is staggering so, to make the selection process more approachable, we'll break it down into three general categories: portables, floor-mounted, and ceiling-mounted.
Portable X-Ray Systems
Portables are just that, mobile X-ray units that can move between rooms for basic studies. It seems like every facility has one laying around in their back room or tucked away in a broom closet but, for your next purchase project, should you buy one?
A portable can be a great first step into the X-ray world. Consider starting with one of these systems if you're working through the following questions :
What will my volume be like?
Will X-ray be a sustainable source of revenue for our facility?
Will our X-ray procedures be basic?
Typically, these units are low-powered, easy to use/maneuver, and on the lower end of the cost spectrum. Some companies, like Block Imaging, will allow you to rent a portable and establish a base for your X-ray business or determine your volume and needs before you buy.
Portables shine best in light-duty settings like single physician offices, urgent care, family practice, chiropractic, or as a back-up in large orthopedic or hospital settings.
Floor-Mounted Rad Rooms
There are plenty of sub types in the floor-mounted rad room category (fixed table, U-arm, straight arm, etc.), but all of these types share a few similarities that will be helpful to know.
They are fixed units. Floor-mounted rad rooms are fixed to the floor (unlike portables) with varying degrees of flexibility and movement, including mobile tables, floating/elevating tables, or tube stands that travel on a fixed track.
They have more powerful generators than portables. A more powerful generator allows for cross-table studies and heavier patients to be scanned while maintaining excellent image quality.
They offer more flexibility than portables for a wider variety of procedures. Certain studies, a sunrise knee, for example, cannot be performed on portable X-ray units. The rotational movement of a floor-mounted tube stand, coupled with the range of motion of the table allows techs and doctors to perform more types of studies.
These systems are typically purchased for facilities that have an established expectation of volume. While carrying a higher cost than a portable, due to installation and room configuration costs, the flexibility of a floor-mounted rad room adds value through higher throughput and a broader range of studies conducted.
If you're looking to start with a more varied caseload or medium-high volume right out of the gate, a floor-mounted machine can be an excellent first X-ray system.
Ceiling-Mounted Rad Rooms
Our final category is ceiling-mounted X-ray systems, where the tube and collimator are suspended from the ceiling on rails. This style is the most versatile of the bunch.
In most cases, a ceiling mounted X-ray is used for the following needs:
- Bariatric studies (due to top-tier generator power and table weight capacity)
- High-volume facilities like hospitals and large orthopedic clinics
- Facilities that perform standing weight-bearing studies
A ceiling-mounted X-ray system comes with higher costs for the equipment, service, installation, and potential construction, but is a one-stop shop for any X-ray study you might need, no matter the patient. Options for manual or fully-automated systems are available based on a facility's specific needs in volume and study type.
Every X-ray facility is a bit different; different patient volumes, different specialties, different budgets. Fortunately, the variety among X-ray systems means there's equipment that fits in any setting.
There's always a temptation to let price take the driver's seat in your equipment considerations. We recommend starting your decision-making process with a careful consideration of your clinical needs, then weigh those needs against the budget you're working with. And if you need help reconciling the two, our team is always ready to step in for an assist.