A Guide to Buying a CT Scanner
What Type of CT Scanner Do I Need?
The first question you should be asking yourself is, what type of CT scanner do you need? Choosing the best CT scanner for your facility will depend on several things, including; the type of work you intend to do, what your building can accommodate, and what regulatory requirements you need to meet. The more you know about your scenario, the better prepared you’ll be to select the best combination of options from various systems on the refurbished equipment market. Here is a guide to buying a CT scanner for your practice!
One of the most critical aspects of your decision will be your CT scanner system’s slice count. A CT’s slice count represents the number of two-dimensional anatomical cross-sections captured in an individual rotation. These cross-sections are utilized to create a three-dimensional rendering of the anatomy. Common slice counts on used and refurbished CTs include 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, and sometimes 128, 256, or 320. After a certain slice count, a CT scanner can be used for pretty much any procedure you can imagine. But before you start looking into the highest count you can find, be aware that some technology may be excessive. The price difference between a 16-slice and a 64-slice, for example, may not be worth it if you don’t plan to do cardiac or advanced brain studies.
As slice counts increase, the amount of time required to complete a scan goes down. This helps patient flow go smoother, improves the overall throughput at a facility, and leads to more reimbursement revenue by volume. Higher slice counts also mean newer, more sophisticated technology, which translates into higher up-front costs and often higher service costs. Choosing what slice count your CT scanner should have will mean striking a balance between your clinical needs, patient flow goals, and budgetary scenario.
How Much Does a CT Scanner Cost?
Here is a breakdown of prices for CT scanners with 16-slices, 64-slices, 128-slices, and 256-slices. The prices are based on new and refurbished existing scanners from the major manufacturers.
16-slice CT Scanners:
The most common CT scanner is the 16-slice scanner. These units are ideal for general studies and moderate patient volumes.
- A new 16-slice CT scanner costs between $285,000-$360,000
- A refurbished 16-slice scanner costs between $90,000-$205,000
64-slice CT Scanners:
The 64-slice CT scanner is the standard scanner for hospitals, health systems, and imaging centers. For instance, a heart study can be performed due to the reduced scan times and advanced technology. The speed and accuracy of a 64-slice scanner reduce scan times and is suited for practices with moderate to high patient volumes.
- A new 64-slice CT scanner costs between $500,000 to $700,000
- A refurbished 64-slice scanner costs between $175,000 to $390,000
128+ Slice CT Scanners:
Premium scanners with 128, 256, 320+ slices are most commonly found supporting specialty practices and high patient volumes. These scanners are designed to produce high-quality images of any organ and feature specialty software packages.
- A new 128-slice CT scanner costs between $675,000 to $1,000,000
- A refurbished 128-slice scanner costs between $225,000 to $650,000
- New 256+ slice / dual energy scanners cost between $1,350,000-$2,100,000
The price is only a part of the total cost of ownership. The other components include maintenance, electricity, site planning, and operation costs. Along with a new CT scanner, a one-year parts & labor warranty are incorporated into the price. With used and refurbished imaging equipment, service is treated as an additional item. While there are multiple options available, we are here to help you make the best choice.
Once the details of a CT project are broken out, a simple response to the cost question emerges. Prices vary too much for a one-size-fits-all answer. The best way to begin is by selecting a vendor who takes the time to understand all of your specific goals for the CT project. Your volume, ideal timeline, technologist’s experience, room size, budget, physician’s demands, and competitor’s equipment are just a few of the factors that a vendor must understand in presenting the best equipment and service solution.
How Do I Plan My CT Project?
Prep the Site
Preparing your facility for the installation of a CT may require you to work with various specialists, including building contractors, electricians, plumbers, HVAC technicians, architects, and physicists. We can’t offer any firm numbers to budget your remodeling and site prep with this many possibilities. Still, we can offer a few items to help set your procedural expectations and point out some valuable caveats:
- Choose a CT provider that has project managers. While you can successfully navigate a CT project without a project manager, you can make the process much smoother, less stressful, and less likely to be delayed with a project manager’s help.
- Once you’ve settled on which CT system you intend to purchase, forward a drawing of your space to your project manager as soon as possible. Their site planner will propose a room layout from this drawing.
- Check your state requirements for warning lights and door switches or interlocks. The specification and installation of these items will require your architect, installer, electrician, and builder interaction. These requirements and their connection to your CT are a common source of delays if not investigated in advance of the project.
- Involve HVAC contractors early in the project to help avoid delays. A drafty scan room can be just as much of an HVAC problem as an overheated room. Proper scan room temperature makes things comfortable for both the CT and your patients (hospital gowns aren’t particularly well-insulated).
- Several drafts of the room layout will probably pass back and forth. When a final design is agreed upon, your project manager may schedule a preliminary visit from the installing engineer. One visit is often enough, but this could be the first of two or three, depending on the room modifications’ extent.
- If you have purchased a water-cooled CT, you will need access to water lines for your chiller. Your plumbing and HVAC contractors will collaborate on this installation.
- Consider dimmable lighting for the scan room. The softer settings help reduce glare that impairs the CT tech’s view of the room and comfort patients. The brighter settings are ideal for cleaning and system maintenance.
- Your scanning room will need to be lined with leaded drywall to shield the surrounding areas from radiation. Your building contractor can install this, but the material costs will be drastically higher. The thickness of the lead lining determines the cost per sheet, and because local authorities dictate thickness requirements, lining prices will vary from region to region.
- The control room will need a leaded window for viewing patients and a leaded access door. Once again, your building contractor can install these materials. Pricing on both will vary by the thickness of the glass/lead and whether or not your state requires door switches or interlocks. Once your contractors have the proper utility hook-ups, doors, lighting, and radiation shielding in place, your space is ready to receive your CT scanner.
A CT installation typically begins with a small crew who will arrive early on the scanner’s delivery date. They may bring their tools with them for installations, especially far from their home office, or they may ship a crate of tools to your facility. A day or two before the installation start date, you’ll be notified to be on the lookout for the container. Your installer may also request a secure space to store tools and equipment during the installation. Shortly after their arrival, your install crew will confirm that the system’s entry path is clear of obstruction and prepare it with a protective floor covering.
The next steps of the project are:
- Delivery of CT Scanner
- Mechanical Installation
- System Calibration
- Post Installation
Once your CT scanner is in your building, secured in place, and calibrated, the installation is complete. You’re ready to move on to the last few steps that will prepare you to scan your first patients.
Before your system is given the go-ahead to scan patients, a state-licensed radiation physicist will need to inspect it for functionality, image quality, and radiation dose parameters. A medical physicist is specially trained in the electrical, mechanical, and radiation physics of medical equipment. Booking the physicist visit is your facility’s responsibility. Your project manager or your state’s health/radiation authorities can provide you with a referral to the correct professional. You’ll need to communicate with your IT specialists to ensure that the proper networking connections are available in the scan room for the engineer to connect the system to the facility PACS network. They may also need to cooperate with the installing engineer to ensure that the correct networking information is entered into the CT system’s workstation.
When your system is fully functional and networked, your apps trainer can build your protocols and guide your team through everything from positioning a patient to be scanned to sending the images to your PACS network to be reviewed. If your team requires this training, it can be conducted before or after your physicist inspects the scanner.
Contact Us Today
Now that you have read through a guide to buying a CT scanner, if you need any help with this huge project then feel free to reach out to us! You can receive expert coaching on best solutions for your needs. You can also visit our website to learn more about purchasing a CT scanner here.