When you're selecting the right C-arm for your pain management practice, "Bells and Whistles" is not the name of the game. The work is important in improving the lives of patients, but it doesn't really call for spending big money on the latest and greatest technology. On the other hand, it's also not worth it to settle for a system that's unreliable or under-powered. So, how can a pain facility find the best value in a pain management C-arm? Keep reading. We'll unpack the answer below.
How to Find the Best Value in a Pain Management C-Arm
When people come to us to find a C-arm for pain management, there are three big characteristics we recommend they look for: Reliability, power capacity, and price. When you find a model that offers all three, it probably deserves a place in your considerations.
Among the major manufacturers, OEC has reliability cornered. The overall quality of OEC systems, from their design, to the durability of their components, keeps them from having frequent breakdowns. When they do experience problems, they are cheaper and easier to fix than models from other makers.
If you’re doing a lot of lateral shots and/or many heavy patients, power has to be a consideration. Every economy model C-arm boasts image software that improves quality, but there's simply no replacement for total kV/mA output.
If laterals and heavy patients are a big part of your schedule, we suggest units that generate 12kW and above. Examples include the OEC 9800 and 9900, Philips Pulsera, Siemens Avantic, Ziehm Vision, and Genoray Zen 7000.
Yes, it's possible to buy a C-arm on Ebay for $10k, but does that price really get you quality and reliability? It's also easy to spend too much and end up with more system than you need. So where can we find the middle ground?
First, you'll have to decide whether you want a C-arm with an image intensifier (II) or a flat detector (FD). For more details on comparing those technologies, you can see our previous blog here. For the purposes of this article, however, we'll tell you that most pain centers and pain doctors we speak to are still defaulting to II technology. It’s known, it's reliable, and it's cheaper to buy and to service. The cost gap may close someday, but in 2020, choosing an II-based system is still the best way to reduce cost to a more manageable level.
Second, we suggest working with a reputable provider of refurbished C-arms. A C-arm that has undergone the restorative work of a thorough refurbishment process still provides high quality, without the significantly greater price of buying brand new.
So, if we put the big three considerations on a Venn diagram, which models would fall in the overlap? Which C-arms would bring the highest value to pain management doctors and practices?
From a technical standpoint, the OEC 9900 is a top contender in the reliability and power categories. Pound-for-pound, however, it's not all that different from the cheaper, and still widely popular, OEC 9800 (see a more detailed comparison here). On top of their similarities, the 9800 can be upgraded with flat monitors, larger memory, and even radiation dose-reduction features to further bridge the gap. Because it hits the tri-fecta of reliability, power, and price so well, the OEC 9800 has been our most popular option among pain docs to date.
If your needs aren't as great in the power category and you're able to operate with a smaller generator, two other options that serve well in reliability and price are the Siemens Arcadis Varic, or even the Ziehm Solo for compact applications.
Whatever balance the needs at your pain management facility have you leaning toward, our team is ready to help you bring your next C-arm solution home. Use the banner below to reach out for pricing and availability, or call us directly at 517-668-8800.