The CT machine has been called one of the most important advances in radiology since the X-ray. The introduction of CT scanners has helped cut down the need for invasive procedures, allowing detailed glimpses into the body without having to touch a scalpel. Major benefits of the spiral CT include its ability to create 3-D images of areas inside the body; detection of small abnormalities; and its rapid scan time, which means less time for patients to lie still.
So which type of CT machine is right for your facility?
Which Slice Would You Like?
CT machines can be single or multi-slice. The decision to purchase a multi-slice CT machine involves sensible considerations such as equipment costs, demographics, and whether it fits in with the overall budget. You will also need to decide on the specific number of slices and workflow features you need. Equipment providers like Amber Diagnostics are able to review the capabilities of different machines, and help make informed suggestions based on your needs.
The ideal slice count depends on the types of services or exams you tend to provide, which is also based on the demographics of your target patients.
Single Slice CT Machines
Single slice CT machines are capable of acquiring one image per gantry rotation (the gantry is the ring the patient is placed in). A scanner with more slices allows faster acquisition. For example, a multi-slice would make it easier to examine unruly children or weak elderly patients that can’t lie still for too long. While multi-slice CT machines have become the industry norm, the single slice machines are still a useful component, and should continue to be around for quite some time.
Multi Slice CT Machines
There are several different types of ct machines depending on the amount of slices. Multi-slice scanners come in 4, 6, 8, 16, 32, 40, and 64 slice configurations. Additional slices enhance diagnostic capabilities and broaden the range of applications, especially if the facility will be performing cardiac studies.
2, 4, 6 or 8-slice CT Machines are all whole-body scanners capable of scan routine 0.8 to 0.5-second full 360-degree rotation scans, while acquiring multiple slices in a single rotation. These models are perfect for mid-to-high volume locations and will provide fast scanning and excellent image quality.
16-slice CT Machines can perform a wide variety of sophisticated and complex imaging procedures. It provides full organ coverage with high resolution imaging, but is not considered adequate for detailed cardiac analysis such as coronary vessel analysis.
32-slice CT Machines generally feature shorter examination times than the 16-slice, with reduced likelihood of motion artifacts.
64-slice CT Machines is said to have significantly improved CT Angiography (CTA), and is particularly recommended for cardiac studies. The speed and sensitivity of these CT machines allow physicians to see how well the heart is contracting, to view the walls of arteries for plaque formation, and to observe the tiniest of vessels and arterial branches. They can produce exceptionally sharp images of the finest details, and significantly reduce scan time.
Mobile CT Machines
It’s important to note that CT machines are capable of going mobile. This is useful for many situations, especially if you’d rather not make a commitment. For example, if you’re current CT suite is under repair or renovations, you may want to rent a mobile CT machine. Perhaps you have lower patient volume at several locations. In this case you could transport a mobile CT scanner for specific intervals of time to each location when needed, rather than investing in several types of CT machines.
Or maybe you’d simply like to reach more remote patients? Whatever the case, mobile CT machines are very useful and you may want to consider them before you make an investment.
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Additional Features to Consider
Now remember, when considering which scanner to purchase, not only is it important to consider the number of data slices, but also to take into account the length of coverage in one rotation. The rotation time of the tube and the detectors surrounding the patient (gantry rotation time) has a direct effect on overall scan time.
Although most exams do not require the smallest slice width, CT machines with thinner (and more) slices in one rotation, can handle the more complex exams and diverse patient populations. Scanners are able to achieve rotation times of less than 0.3 seconds, but these fast rotations are best reserved for specialist studies such as cardiac scanning (to minimize image artifacts caused by heart motion). 0.5 second rotations are usually more adequate for general body scanning, while 1 second rotation times are ample for head scanning.
Types of CT Machines may also differ based on the speed of image reconstruction. Acquiring more slices is not beneficial if patient throughput is delayed by slow image reconstruction. But buying a high specification computer is only worth it if it will be well-utilized.
Finally, think about how images will be manipulated, interpreted and managed. Hospitals may choose to have advanced 3D CT computer applications for manipulating and/or reading. Additionally, radiologists should decide on a method of storage for large data sets. Regardless of the interpreting method, a hospital may continue with hard copy archiving, implement an intermediate electronic data storage solution, or may move to the full PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) electronic workflow (which would be ideal for those with a sufficient budget).
If you have questions or difficulty with your CT project planning, please do not hesitate to reach out! Buying refurbished CT machines can save you up to 70% compared to new ones, and you will never have to sacrifice quality, performance, or familiar platforms. For over 25 years, we’ve offered warranties on all machines as well as financing options tailored to the healthcare industry – and I’m here to help you find the CT device that best fits your budget and needs.
Also, don’t forget to take a look at our wide range of used and refurbished CT Scanners here.
If you have questions about our inventory of CT machines or need help choosing the right slice for your facility, give us a call anytime!