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Which CT Scanner Is the Best Value?

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You’ve been there: the head of radiology insists that the new 1024-slice CT is the technology you need, while the CFO is leaning toward keeping the “old faithful” single-slice from 1992. Okay, maybe this is a slight exaggeration, but what really is the practical choice? Which CT offers the best value, balancing initial purchase price and ongoing service costs with function and image quality? Unfortunately, this is not a question with a “one size fits all” answer. Not every facility has the same patient volume, the same specialty, or the same budgetary flexibility. Depending on your intended/predicted usage, the following are several CT scanners we've found strike the balance well for the majority of applications and specialties in the field.

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GE BrightSpeed 16 with Performix Tube

These are the top of the line when it comes to "bread and butter" scanning. Why? They're 16-slice (so will get full reimbursements for 90% of all procedures), they are- or can be made- XR-29 compliant, and they can have iterative reconstruction added. On the cost side, yes, they have a higher initial purchase price than their comparables, but with cheaper ongoing service costs, inexpensive tubes, and plenty of competition among service engineers, they generally make it up within the first year or two.

Two potential pitfalls to be on the lookout for: make sure the BrightSpeed 16 you consider has the Performix tube- not the Hercules or Solarix tube. The Hercules tends to be pricier to replace and the Solarix doesn't pack the same power as the Performix. If you are operating in the U.S., where XR-29 compliance is a concern, make sure the scanner does not have an Octane console. Octanes are older and cannot be upgraded to meet the requirements of XR-29. All other console types for BrightSpeed are compatible with the upgrades.

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GE Optima 540

Like the BrightSpeed, the Optima 540 is 16-slices, but it's a few years newer. It will cost more because of that, but it has the same benefits of XR-29 compliance, iterative reconstruction options, and less expensive parts and service than comparable scanners from other manufacturers. The Optima 540 comes standard with a Performix tube, so there are no concerns about finding one with enough power for higher traffic.

LightSpeed VCT 64

Functionally, the VCT 64 is neck-and-neck with other 64-slice scanners in its age group (Sensation, Brilliance, Aquilion). It also costs more up-front. However, like the scanners mentioned above, the lower tube replacement cost, engineering costs, and service costs in general compensate for this within a year or two and begin saving money in the long run. In our experience, buyers won't find a better overall value in the 64-slice category than the VCT 64.

Tie: Toshiba Aquilion 16, Philips Brilliance 16 and Siemens Emotion 16

Okay, maybe a three-way tie seems like a cop-out, but if budgetary constraints or fluctuations in availability have you ruling out an Optima 540 or a BrightSpeed, any of these other 16-slice scanners can also be a solid runner-up in value.

All three of these models can usually be made XR-29 compliant. They are all also air-cooled. In terms of performance, they're all pretty equitable- just remember that you're likely to pay more for parts and service in the long run (especially tubes, as they're proprietary).

Pitfalls to watch for: Make sure the XR-29 upgrade has been done (if possible/necessary) and make sure the tube usage is low. Buying one of these with an end-of-life tube just because it's cheap could come back to bite you.

The Takeaway 

There is no shortage of CT scanner options available, but as imaging facilities continue to adapt to the economic and regulatory trends of the last decade or so by making fewer dollars go further (without sacrificing the quality of patient care), some options present a greater value proposition than others. Depending on the clinical circumstances at your facility and your CT service needs, any of the CT scanners mentioned above could be that value.

If you're looking for any of the CT scanner models we've mentioned, we'd love to hear from you and help you find the very best CT scanner for your facility. Use the button below to start the conversation and get a quote.

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