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Archive November 2018 XIX, No. 11

The Rise of Flat-Panel C-arms

What's fueling the move from traditional image intensifiers to digital flat-panel detectors?

Mike Morsch

Mike Morsch, Associate Editor


Greg DeConciliis, PA-C, CASC
C-ARM SCENE A staffer at Boston Out-Patient Surgical Suites in Waltham, Mass., readies a compact flat-panel C-arm for action.

Like an old gas guzzler, your conventional C-arms sure do take up a lot of space and give off a lot of radiation, and the image quality has lost its luster. But your C-arms have served your doctors well. So why would you upgrade to flat-panel detectors that can cost around 2 to 3 times more than your trusted image intensifiers?

In a few words: superior image quality with minimal dose. Not only are flat-panel detectors more streamlined (think smaller and lighter), they also provide clearer, sharper images, even of small structures, while exposing patients and staff to less radiation. Flat-panel detectors, introduced in the United States in 2009, also run cooler than image intensifiers and have a longer usable life. Here are 6 points to keep in mind when choosing between a system with an analog image intensifier and a system with a flat-panel digital detector.

1. Image quality.

Flat-panel C-arms will give you optimum image quality, without degradation, for a very long time.

"A flat-panel detector can show much more minute detail — superfine details — than an image intensifier," says John Alexander, RT, (R), (CT), CPC, radiology systems administrator at OrthoCarolina in Charlotte, N.C.

Flat-panel technology achieves higher spatial resolution in comparison to conventional C-arms. Due to the high level of resolution, the flat panel emits less distortion that negatively effects the image quality. This is especially true when magnification mode is used during fluoroscopy.

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