For multiple years, radiological investigations have remained the most accessible and important ways of examining patients because a timely and quality diagnosis is the cornerstone of effective treatment. As of today, there is a large number of X-ray machines on the medical equipment market. All of them belong to completely different price categories and have various technical capabilities. That is why we will take a look at different X-ray machines and importantly, help you understand the right way to choose one in order to get a bargain.

According to their specialization and field of application, X-ray machines are divided into:

 Dental X-ray instrumentation utilized by dentists (radiovisiography, orthopantomography, tomographic scanners);

• C-arms, which are often used in surgery, specifically during surgical procedures;

 Mammography machines (mammography);

 Angiography machines (C-arm type);

 General diagnostic X-ray machines (photofluorographic units, X-ray examination stands, ward X-ray machines).

Depending on the operating conditions, X-ray machines are divided into stationary and portable (ward). And among other important classifications, X-ray machines are divided into the following two main categories:

 Digital X-ray machines allow taking images instantly with no need to develop film; in addition, they store the information on a computer.

 Film X-ray machines operate utilizing a special film onto which a resulting image is projected; the image can be investigated only after it is developed.

Let’s take a look at some technical specifications to which special attention should be paid when choosing an X-ray machine:

• X-ray tube specifications – the main ones are as follows:  anode heat storage capacity (directly affects the system’s effectiveness) and focal spot sizes (the smaller the X-ray tube focal spot size, the clearer the image).

• The generator type and power capacity – high-frequency X-ray generators are preferable since they increase X-ray tube operating life providing maximum safety for patients. Taking the generator power capacity into consideration, you should also remember about the X-ray machine type: portable devices’ standard power capacity may be 3, 6, 15, or 30 kW; stationary X-ray machines’ power capacity range on average from 40 kW to 80 kW. Moreover, the more powerful the generator is, the less exposure time it takes, and consequently, the less radiation patients are exposed to. The Philips Practix Convenio portable X-ray system with 30 kW power capacity and the Siemens Axiom Luminos TF Eco stationary X-ray machine with 65 kW power capacity are excellent options of respective types.

• X-ray tube mounting types – stationary machines have two mounting options: floor-mounted and ceiling-mounted X-ray tubes. Floor-mounted ones are certainly cheaper to install, and do not require specific room dimensions. But if you expect a large patient stream, it would be best to devote some more funds and purchase the ceiling-mounted X-ray tube because it is more reliable and much easier to use. Siemens Multix Top may be regarded as a desktop X-ray machine.

• An X-ray table is an essential part for any stationary machine. There are tables with either fixed or adjustable height. If the table can move vertically, it’s possible to adapt the X-ray system to examine patients with restricted movement capabilities, as well as for patients with serious medical conditions. The maximum load on the X-ray table is an equally important feature. Most systems allow examining patients with a body weight of up to 200 kilograms. However, some manufacturers produce machines with X-ray tables withstanding even 290 kilograms load and higher.

Finally, you have to decide what X-ray machine is more suitable for you according to the type: digital or film. To help you choose, we will consider advantages of both.

Digital X-ray machine advantages:

• better image quality  provides the possibility to detect important details through digital processing;

• operation speed provides the possibility to assess the obtained image online using a computer;

• availability – modern digital X-ray machines are both portable and stationary and are widely used to diagnose various medical conditions;

• provide the possibility to store relevant information on digital media, ensuring data handling convenience and efficient space utilization;

• and two of the most important advantages are low cost of patient examination and operating staff safety, as digital machines do not require film developing processes thus eliminating contact with chemical reagents.

The PHILIPS DigitalDiagnost, FUJI FCR GO and SHIMADZU MobileDaRt MUX-100D systems are among quality digital X-ray machines.

Film (analog) X-ray machine advantages:

• the operational principles for these machines are usually familiar to all X-ray department staff;

• X-ray department performance will not suffer from computer malfunctions, if any;

• they are reliable and can be operated for many years continuously;

• relatively low cost of fim X-ray machines compared to the modern digital ones;

• some modern film X-ray machines support digital functionality, so, if necessary, you can upgrade them to a digital machine.

The GE AMX-4 Plus, GE Proteus XR/a, GE Optima XR200amx systems are among the top film X-ray machines.

Thus, only being aware of all the details will allow you to choose the right machine for you, and what is also important, to get a bargain. In its turn, this will ensure your X-ray department’s quality and proper performance in any clinic.

Diana Balog, doctor, BiMedis Сompany