Building a realistic budget for any C-arm includes setting aside some funds for its ongoing maintenance. Whether you choose to purchase a full service coverage package or to place service calls on a time and materials basis, system upkeep is a part of your costs that shouldn't be overlooked.
While the actual price you'll pay for C-arm service will vary from vendor to vendor, there are a few things to ask about a C-arm that can help manage your expectations in this area:
Who can service it?
Are used parts available?
How much do the most expensive parts cost?
We'll break down the answers to these questions for popular models from two of the biggest C-arm manufacturers below.
OEC C-arms hold the greatest market share for C-arms in the US. As a result, more people are trained to specialize in servicing them and proprietary service is not often required. These systems are the most third-party-friendly by a long shot.
Another effect of OEC's market share is a wide availability of used and refurbished parts. This availability makes OEC replacement parts the least expensive of any major manufacturer.
At present, a used II for an OEC 9800 costs $4,000-$7,000 depending on its age. Used 9800 tubes average $3,000-$5,000.
Philips equipment is the most protected and exclusive of the major manufacturers. Much of their service and replacement parts availability is proprietary. Among the majors, third-party companies that specialize in Philips C-arm service or stock a significant inventory of Philips parts are the rarest but can be found here and there.
A used II for a Philips Pulsera C-arm currently averages $7,000-$10,000 depending on its age. A used tube runs $7,000-$9,000. Unfortunately, because Philips is the most proprietary with their parts and service, you're likely to have a harder time finding used parts and someone who is trained to install them. Moreover, OEMs don't generally install parts from third-party sources. If you were to find yourself relying on a Philips engineer to install your new parts, you would also find yourself paying the full OEM price for them. Currently, a new II for a Pulsera is about $22,000 - $24,000. A tube goes for $61,000 - $63,500.
While service costs are far from from the only consideration when choosing which C-arm to purchase, they are an important one that can have a dramatic effect on your overall ownership experience. As you work toward a final pick, keep the following in mind:
If your pick is shaping up to be an OEC, you can expect to find service engineers and used parts with ease. You probably won't need to contact the OEM for very much (if anything) and you'll most likely be able to net some significant savings as a result.
If the needs and preferences at your facility have you leaning toward a Philips system, be sure to do some thorough service homework. As we said earlier, among the big 3, third-party service is hardest to find for Philips, but not impossible. If you do find a third-party option an ongoing service agreement may be just the ticket. If you have a larger appetite for risk and prefer to have your service performed on a time and materials basis, expect to rely on the OEM for a good portion of your service and parts and to pay more to get them.