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.
GE BrightSpeed 16 and LightSpeed 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, 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 or LightSpeed 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 and LightSpeed are compatible with the upgrades.
Siemens Sensation 16 with Akron Q Tube
This scanner has low service costs and a low purchase price. It's very reliable and most can be made XR-29 compliant. The drawbacks: they’re on the older side (2002-2005 model years) and they’re water-cooled, so you’ll have to arrange for chiller maintenance and run water lines.
If you're considering a Sensation 16, be on the lookout to make sure the XR-29 upgrade was completed (if necessary) and make sure it doesn’t have the extremely pricey Straton tube- these can run around $200,000!
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 LightSpeed/BrightSpeed 16 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.
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 a BrightSpeed or LightsSeed, any of these other 16-slice scanners can also be a solid 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.
Siemens Sensation 64
The Sensation 64 is well-made, can be made XR-29 compliant, and has parts available on the secondary market. Additionally, its lower up-front purchasing cost can help to offset its biggest drawback: the expense of replacing its Straton Z tube (about 200k for a new one) when the time comes. If you opt for a Sensation 64, you may want to start looking for deals on a replacement tube when it logs around 600,000 scan seconds.
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 exact needs and circumstances at your facility, 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.