Comparing CT Manufacturers and Models: Choosing the Best CT for Your Needs
Explore the Qualities of Your Ideal CT Scanner
Purchasing medical equipment isn't that much different from buying a car. First you need to decide your budget, then you need to balance what you want with what you actually need. However, when buying a refurbished CT Scanner, there are several additional factors to consider, such as:
These are important factors to consider, and it's not easy. It seems that if you're not a radiology machinery expert or a medical physicist, it's no wonder why the CT buying experience can be an assured headache inducer.
PrizMED Imaging is a leader in refurbished, FDA-certified CT scanners, but we also aim to make the shopping experience straightforward and stress-free. This guide will explore important features of used CT scanners you should know about, and how different CT manufacturers and models compare and contrast.
Important Differences Among CT Systems
CT Carol, a radiologist from a 200-bed hospital, is at a CT equipment convention with all of the major manufacturers and their scanners. She has a modest budget but has to make the most of it. While walking through the convention, she creates a rubric to objectively compare different scanners. Her first consideration is price, and then she compares the quality of important features and the benefit they provide.
CT Scanner Price
Like most potential buyers, CT Carol has a budget that must meet the needs of the facility she represents.
When factoring the cost of the system itself as well as installation costs, looking at slice count provides a decent overview of the price of a CT scanner. For instance:
- 1 to 4 slice CT: ~$50,000 to $90,000
- 6 to 10 slice CT: ~$70,000 to $95,000
- 16 to 40 slice CT: ~$90,000 to $160,000
- 64 slice CT: ~$120,000 to $350,000
- Any accessories (injectors, ECG motion triggers, workstations, etc.)
- Warranty/Service agreements
- Applications training
Next to price, slice count is considered one of the most important features a CT buyer should understand. Slice count is like the engine of the machine, and simply knowing the slice count can illuminate some of the CT scanner's technical capabilities.
For instance, a higher slice count reduces scan time and produces a high-resolution image for some types of studies. However, higher slice counts, such as 128- to 320-slice, is overkill for the diagnostic imaging needs of most hospitals; the CT's advanced capabilities are often required only in cardiac or research institutions.
Understanding slice count when making a CT scanner purchase is a topic that could easily fill a book, and so here are a few fundamental considerations:
- 4-Slice CT — Often considered to be ideal for a veterinarian or a low-volume imaging center, as well as urology practices or other centers that only need the CT scanner once or twice a week.
- 16-Slice CT — Known as the sweet-spot for facilities with a higher patient-flow and a need for reduced scanning times. This slice count also works well for ERs and urgent care centers, as well as hospitals or high-volume imaging centers
- 64-slice CT — Ideal in the world of cardiac, trauma, or high-volume critical care environments where time is of the essence.
- 128-slice CT — Commonly found in cardiac or research institutions. Scanners with this power, as well as 256- or 320-slice scanners, can scan the whole body in seconds and provide incredibly sharp 3D images of any organ.
Some experts claim that understanding slice count isn't as important as it once was, and, today, the feature to really consider is effective dose optimization. Our fictional radiologist, CT Carol, makes dose optimization as important as slice count.
Due to the demand for lower radiation exposure, many CT manufacturers are emphasizing improved dose modulation techniques, such as:
- Adding additional beam filters
- Improving detector dose efficiency
- Developing reconstruction algorithms to accommodate lower x-ray tube current
To know if a CT scanner has some of the leading dose optimization features, look for NEMA XR-29 Compliance.
Iterative reconstruction (IR) is also another important consideration. IR is a data reconstruction protocol for dramatically reducing noise and dose. IR isn't available on all XR-29 compliant CT scanners. It is often reserved as a feature for premium systems, but some manufacturers offer it as an add-on.
Other Technical ConsiderationsNext to slice count and effective dose optimization, CT Carol compared some other important features of the various CT scanners, including:
- Air-cooled vs. water-cooled technology
- Gantry rotation time
- Detector array length
- X-ray tube performance and lifespan
- Spatial and contrast resolutions
- Sustainability and maintenance needs
Knowing each of these components, and how they affect everything from diagnostic performance to service costs, can be helpful in making an intelligent CT scanner selection.
Which CT Scanner is Best for You?
Now that you know some basic considerations for an informed CT purchasing decision, you can better compare the top CT manufacturers — GE, Philips, Siemens, and Toshiba. For this comparison, we'll look beyond slice count and dose optimization, and, instead, examine the general consensus of these scanners as well as some important attributes of popular models.
GE CT Scanners
GE Discovery CT750 HD
GE Healthcare is one of the leaders in computed tomography technology, and GE's range of scanners have an acclaimed reputation for durability and ease of maintenance. Some popular GE scanner model lines include the GE BrightSpeed, GE Discovery, and the GE Lightspeed.
Within these categories, you can also find some popular models, such as the GE Lightspeed RT 16, the GE Discovery 4 PET, and the GE BrightSpeed Elite. In general, GE CT scanners cost more than other models, and a few reasons for this include:
- They often have lower costs of service, labor, and replacement parts
- They are in high demand but there's a limited supply
- GE scanners are air-cooled, which means they are easier to maintain
Philips CT Scanners
The Philips Brilliance line of CT scanners includes some of the most affordable options available. The Philips Brilliance 6 is, quite possibly, the most affordable CT scanner while still being able to provide a range of radiology options all the way through cardiac imaging.
Philips Brilliance 16
For everyday scanning, the Philips Brilliance 16 is well-regarded for its combination of efficiency, image quality, and affordability.
If looking for affordability and efficiency but need advanced imaging applications (imaging for bone mineral density, brain, cardiac, lung analysis, and more), the Brilliance 40 or the Brilliance 64 are good choices.
The Philips Gemini (available in 16, 40, and 64 PET/CT) is another line that offers advanced molecular imaging with time-of-flight imaging capabilities. Their OpenView gantries are staples of this line, offering a less confining environment for patients.
Siemens CT Scanners
Siemens is known for its pioneering spirit and innovation. Among its CT scanners, Siemens builds scanners around advanced radiation minimization and contrast media dosage, as well as other features for better clinical performance and patient well-being. This allows for sharper images with the highest standards for dose minimization.
Siemens Biograph 64 PET/CT Machine
One of the leading lines of Siemens multi-slice CT scanners is the SOMATOM line; for PET/CT scanners, the Siemens Biograph is also an optimal choice.
With regards to image quality, Siemens CT scanners use various oversampling techniques for clear and defined spatial resolution. Siemens’ proprietary Ultra Fast Ceramics (UFC™) offers high X-ray absorption, short decay times, and low afterglow, all of which are key parameters for high spatial resolution.
For a highly affordable scanner, the Siemens SOMATOM Sensation 4 offers low upfront costs and reasonable maintenance and service costs. Don't let its affordability turn you off, as this scanner offers rotation times as fast as 500ms and can do 160 slices in 20 seconds. Following the scan, the Sensation 4 can reconstruct 1.5 slices per second, making this device an optimal entry-level scanner for soft tissue imaging.
On the other side of the spectrum, the SOMATOM Sensation 16 is the workhorse scanner. This scanner is defined by its excellent image resolution and speed; for instance, it can provide a whole body 3D image scan of a patient’s arteries in less than 20 seconds. It offers fast turnaround, so you can see more patients throughout the day while providing a wide range of services, from lung cancer screenings and cardiovascular imaging to cardiac and brain imaging.
Toshiba CT Scanners
If GE is easy maintenance, Philips is affordability, and Siemens is innovation, then Toshiba is power and quality. Just look at the Toshiba Aquilion 16, one of Toshiba's most popular systems. The Aquilion 16 is a robust 16-slice scanner, known for its ability to complete a rotation in .4 seconds and reconstruct high-quality images at 12 frames per second.
The Aquilion 16 is also versatile, offering applications in bone mineral density, lung analysis, musculoskeletal, neurology, oncology, and urology.
Toshiba Aquilion One
While it's important to know the different types of CT manufacturers and models, it can help to speak to a specialist who understands your facility and its imaging needs. At PrizMED Imaging we work with every client and aim to provide the most benefit for your budget and facility. We offer FDA-certified, refurbished CT scanners at affordable prices.
To speak with a PrizMED Imaging CT specialist, call us today at our toll-free number, 440-414-7539, or contact us and we will answer your questions or provide you with a free quote.