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Purchasing Insight: Portable X-ray

Portable chest X-rays are the most common diagnostic exam in intensive care units. Having the ability to perform them at the bedside is extremely valuable, as there exists clear clinical evidence that the latest digital radiography (DR) detector portable X-ray units allow for portable exams to be performed in almost half the time previously required for computed radiography (CR) and film-based exams.

Substantial point-of-care diagnostic advantages can be realized through mobile X-ray units equipped with digital flat panel detectors. This technology allows physicians to view radiographic images in a matter of seconds after exposure and offers improved patient care and a more streamlined workflow for clinicians. There also is often a 30 to 50 percent reduction in radiation dose with the newer technology.

Pricing for portable X-ray systems varies, depending first on the technology segment (analog versus digital), then on the power rating of the unit’s chassis, and finally on the type and size of flat panel detector that is associated with the system.

Multiple sizes of flat panel detectors are available to be paired with mobile X-ray units. Larger panels are typically 14” × 17” while smaller panel detectors come in four common sizes—11” × 14”, 8” × 12”, 24 cm × 30 cm, and 25 cm × 30 cm. Although it is possible to use both larger and smaller panels in conjunction with one mobile X-ray unit, doing so will increase the price of the unit dramatically.

Smaller panels are most often utilized in NICUs and for orthopedic imaging of extremities, while larger panels are used for most other portable X-ray exams, such as studies of the chest, hips, and abdomen.

Although analog portable X-ray units require a modest investment, $40,000 to $80,000, as compared with their digital cousins, advances in flat panel detector technology have made digital systems coupled with flat panels the gold standard in most U.S. hospitals today. Hospitals with an existing analog system have the option to retrofit a detector, which typically costs $62,000 to $140,000 depending on the size and type of flat panel. New fully-digital portable X-ray units run about $125,000 to $235,000 depending on maximum power output options and type of detector selected.

Regarding service and support, most organizations opt for full-coverage service plans that include tube, battery, and detector drop protection because of the high cost of repairing and replacing the flat panel detectors. Analog units may require only partial coverage, such as second-call or time and materials only agreements, because they often can be serviced by trained hospital biomedical engineering (BME) staff.

Analog Portable X-ray Units

Low                                            High                                                            Average Price

$36,040                                   $79,710                                                     $49,061

System Service Support Prices

Low                                            High                                                            Average Price

$2,546                                      $10,456                                                     $4,656.57

Digital Portable X-ray Units with Flat Panel Detectors

Low                                            High                                                            Average Price

$125,000                                $235,379                                                  $166,415.38

System Service Support Prices

Low                                            High                                                            Average Price

$11,691                                   $29,437                                                     $21,821.13

Data Source: MD Buyline (Please note these numbers have been adjusted to exclude special deals, outliers, and unique circumstances.)

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