The prices paid for X-ray systems that can be wheeled up to a surgical table or patient bed to gather images during a procedure surged this fall as providers upgraded to 3-D-compatible equipment.
The mobile C-arm X-ray systems are used in surgery, orthopedics, critical care and emergency departments, among other settings. At an average cost of $226,427 between this past August and October, buyers were paying 33% more for the systems than they did during the same period last year because they opted for newer, more expensive equipment.
This data comes from the latest Modern Healthcare/ECRI Institute Technology Price Index, which provides monthly and annual snapshots of prices paid for about 30 supply and capital items purchased by hospitals and other healthcare providers. The monthly numbers reflect three-month rolling averages. C-arm prices ranged from $100,000 to $600,000 during the period.
3-D-enabled machines accounted for 23% of all purchases of C-arms during the recent three-month period, a significant jump from 8% during the same period last year. The 3-D systems cost an average of $520,000.
Much of the new demand for 3-D machines is driven by their capability to integrate with surgical navigation systems, said Kevin Lee, a project lead at ECRI, a Plymouth Meeting, Pa.-based equipment research organization.
Surgical navigation systems, which are becoming more popular in spine procedures and some neurological surgeries, allow providers to display the location of surgical instruments over diagnostic imaging so they can understand where they're placing screws or other devices in real-time. The technology not only improves accuracy but also eliminates the need to do post-op imaging, saving the patient time and money and limiting radiation exposure.
Manufacturers of the equipment include Philips, Siemens and Ziehm. General Electric Co. makes C-arm equipment but doesn't have a 3-D model, according to ECRI.
“As 3-D becomes easier to use and more convenient, hospitals are more likely to buy a system for 3-D looking toward the future,” said Jason Launders, director of operations for ECRI's health devices group. It's a good investment, he said, because the devices won't quickly become obsolete: “It's going to be 16 years before they buy another one.”