If you are in charge of purchasing for your hospital or practice you will have definitely seen the portable X-ray units in recent years. Sure they seem quite useful, but with units costing anywhere from $40,000 to $100,000 is it worth the investment? The answer will be different for every facility, but we’ll go over some of the common uses for it, typical costs, and the different models to help you come to a decision.
How much would I use a portable X-ray machine?
This is the most important factor, will you actually use it or not? It’s incredibly useful as a diagnostic tool, particularly if you are finding that you need to perform a lot of chest x-rays at your practice or hospital. Being able to wheel the machine up to a patients bedside and do the x-ray right there is much more practical and convenient than needing to move them to an X-ray room, especially if they are not mobile on their own. The portable units will also expose your patients to much smaller doses of radiation.
They are also faster than your typical computed radiography and film-based exams. You can see a radiographic image of your patient within seconds, which could potentially streamline your workflow and save you and your staff a lot of time. If patients can be diagnosed and attended to more quickly then you can see more patients per day.
It really comes down to how often you need to perform X-rays on your patients. If it’s daily or multiple times per day, a portable X-ray machine could definitely be a worthwhile investment. If you are a busy hospital, it could be invaluable.
How much does a portable X-ray machine cost?
This can vary greatly from machine to machine, and you should factor in the typical service costs as well. There are two kinds of portable X-ray machines, which I will go into more detail about below. The two kinds of machines are analog and digital. In terms of both initial price and service costs, the analog versions are much less expensive. However, if you want to upgrade to the digital flat-panel display down the road, it will cost up to an additional $140,000 to retrofit it. You could just purchase a brand new digital machine for that price to start with.
In general an analog portable X-ray machine will run from $36,000 on the low end to $80,000 for top of the line with servicing being around $5000. By comparison your digital machines start at about $125,000 and top out around $240,000, and about $20,000 for servicing. Both are definitely an investment, but depending on how often you use them and how much time it could save staff it may definitely be a worthy one.
Analog vs. Digital portable X-ray machines
One of the main differences is the amount of radiation exposure. Of course traditional analog X-rays are considered safe, but digital X-ray imaging exposes the patient to 80% less. This may be of benefit to patients who require frequent X-rays.
Another benefit that may be of even more interest to our readers is cost of use. Because digital X-ray machines do not use film, they are cheaper to use over the long term even though the initial investment is higher.
Image quality is also typically better on a digital machine, and you can easily zoom in or resize the image to better see a particular area without distortion or loss of quality. Image storage is also not an issue, as it will all go on a hard drive and space is pretty much limitless.
What are the best models of portable X-ray machines?
If you are going digital, look for Definium and Optima machines. The Definium AMX 700 and the Optima XR240amx are both top notch models, produced by GE. For an analog machine the Optima XR200amx also from GE is a great option, and is designed to be easily upgraded to digital later on. Shimadzu and Siemens also make popular brands of portable X-ray machines. All of the digital machines are capable of producing a clear image within seconds, greatly speeding up your diagnostic time.
So, is a portable X-ray machine worth the cost?
If you have the budget to purchase one and it would be used frequently at your facility, absolutely it would be worth it. If you can swing it, I would spring for the digital version right away. The increased speed, image quality, and the fact that you don’t need to use film is very convenient and can really streamline operations. Although finances are important, at the end of the day the most important thing is to be able to provide the best quality care for your patients.