Mobile C-arm machines are used for a range of diagnostic imaging and minimally invasive surgical procedures. They’re fluoroscopy devices and could be colloquially referred to as “image intensifiers.” What’s so useful about them is that they’re flexible, and thus can be used in a variety of situations. As a matter of fact – C-Arms come in different sizes including Mini C-Arms, Compact C-Arms, Full-Size C-Arms, and Super C C-Arms. Keep in mind there are also modifications for C-arms such as digital retrofit devices for analog C-arms.
Mini-C-Arm machines are smaller systems typically used in clinics for: sports medicine, orthopedic and podiatric imaging. They generally come with a 4”/6” image intensifier. They’re ideal for performing studies or scanning extremities such as hands, feet, ankles, knees, elbows, and even shoulders. These units can be especially helpful during external reduction and fixation of fractures since the bone alignment can also be visualized in a non-invasive manner via real time.
Compact C-Arm machines are larger than a Mini C-Arm, but not as big as a Full-size C-Arm (almost like a hybrid of the two). These compact systems can come in either one-piece or two-piece systems, with the main benefit being its mobility. If you need something bigger than a Mini C-Arm, but don’t have the room or need for a Full-Size C-Arm – the Compact C-Arm is a great compromise.
Full Size C-Arms
Full-Size C-Arm machines tend to be the most sought after model because they allow you to perform just about any type of procedure. These C-Arm machines are usually used for swallow tests, spine and torso studies, cardiology, pain management and surgery. The open space in the regular full size C-arm is 26 inches, making it large enough to fit a table and patient between the image intensifier and the tube. They can come with a 6/9″ Image Intensifier, and even a 12″ image intensifier, which can be especially useful for cardiology.
Super C C-Arms
A Super C C-Arm gives more space from the middle of the C-arm to the outer edge. The extra open space in a Super C (33 inches), allows for additional room to accommodate larger or obese patients.
Recognized C-Arm Brands
The key players in the United States C-arm market include GE Healthcare/OEC, Philips, Siemens and the German-based Ziehm Imaging, which has made a strong push in the market over the past few years. Top sellers outside the US include Shimadzu and Hitachi.
Notable features on newer mobile C-arm machines include 3-D navigation aids and image processing software to improve image quality and system capabilities. Some systems also offer technologies to reduce the radiation dose delivered to patients. Other features include a touch-screen interface, laser aiming guides, digital subtraction angiography (DSA) and procedure road mapping, allowing vascular procedures to be premeditated with minimum amounts of contrast media and shorter fluoroscopy times.
The new style OEC 9600 C-arms have a rotating handle on the C-arm for added ease of steering the rear wheels of the system, and allowing for lateral movement with less effort. Though both have the same scanning capabilities, the old-style OEC 9600 required the user to put in quite a bit of strength and effort for the steering.
C-Arm Digital Retrofit
It’s worth noting that there’s another option for those who already have C-Arms: the digital retrofit. This flat panel digital detector effectively upgrades OEC 9800 series C-Arms into the digital era. It’s an excellent alternative to purchasing a brand new machine as it’s significantly less expensive, and more convenient.
Amber Diagnostics has proudly served the healthcare community for over 25 years with our expertise, custom warranty plans, and high-quality equipment. If you have questions about a specific C-Arm or need help choosing the best C-Arm for your business, give me a call today! You can also browse our full range of C-Arm equipment here!
John Brant (JB)