C-arm machines have become commonplace in surgical centers and Emergency Rooms since their introduction back in 1955. But what are mobile c-arm machines? What are they used for? What are the benefits of having a c-arm machine in your surgical center or doctor’s office? And how is this essential imaging device evolving over time?  

What Is a C-Arm Machine?  

The C-arm gets its name from the C-shaped arm that connects an X-ray source or other imaging device to another. And they produce an image almost immediately, In short, they generally produce X-rays in real time. This allows medical professionals to get real-time images when dealing with a medical emergency or in the middle of surgery. 

C-arms are imaging scanner intensifiers, increasing the resolution you’d otherwise get from an X-ray machine or other imaging system. Most C-arm machines are x-ray image intensifiers or XRII. This converts X-rays into visible light at a higher intensity than other devices. The intensifier means that the doctor will see the structure of the object more clearly than if you were looking at a fluorescent screen. Furthermore, the intensifier allows you to get this clear image with a lower dose of radiation. That is important if you’re dealing with an injured pregnant woman or need to take multiple X-rays to determine the severity of an injury or the spread of shrapnel in the body. 

Most C-arm imaging devices are mobile. That means they can be moved across the room or room to room. This allows medical facilities to take the scanner to the patient rather than take the patient to the scanner. This is in contrast to stationary imaging equipment like what you find in the traditional X-ray room.  

When Should You Use C-Arm Machines?  

The mobile C-arm system is open, and the imaging scanner can be turned to capture an image of almost any part of the body via flouroscopy. That’s why they’re commonly used in therapeutic studies and angiography studies. They’re often used during orthopedic procedures and cardiac studies. That’s because these systems can see blood flow as well as the location of bones.  

Furthermore, the patient can have the scan done in the position that is painful or otherwise problematic. For example, you don’t have to try to force someone with a potentially broken arm or scoliosis to straighten out to fit inside of an X-ray machine.  

What Are the Benefits of Using Mobile C-Arm Machines?  

The C-arm machine is mobile. This permits you to captures in the patient’s current position or preferred position. This may eliminate the need for mechanical holding devices and the time required to set them up. That results in faster imaging times and faster diagnoses.  

It is easier to repair and upgrade C-arm machines. You have easy access to c arm parts, if you need to replace a cracked support or want to install a higher resolution imaging system. For example, you might replace the control system with one that can build 3D computed typography from 2D x-ray images. A side benefit of the maintainability of these systems is that you’re less likely to delay or deny care because your X-ray machine is down. 

It can be used to check the position of bones, implants and instruments during a procedure or shortly before you open someone up. This results in faster, less invasive procedures. As a side benefit, you can check to make sure everything is aligned, and nothing was left inside before you close up. This can result in fewer follow-up or corrective surgeries for your patients. That’s especially true if you’re placing stents or needles. 

C-arm machines allow you to check for broken bones, shrapnel, swallowed objects and other issues relatively quickly. And you can do so while providing other first aid or life-saving care. On the other hand, they’re sometimes used to minimize the time and pain caused by injecting anesthetic or blocks into someone’s spine. The imager is used to guide the needle as quickly and cleanly as possible. 

Flat-panel detectors are FDP are starting to replace image intensifiers on mobile C-arm systems. That high end imaging option used to be reserved for fixed room systems. But you avoid the biggest issue with fixed room systems: the sheer amount of space they take up. Not every facility has the space for an X-ray room. For example, the operator has to stand behind a protective barrier and be at least six feet from the useful beam. You can’t permit family to stay in the X-ray room while the X-rays are taken, either. Operators still have to use protective gear like lead aprons and distance when you have a mobile C arm system, but they can be 12 feet from the loved one.