Choosing an appropriate Digital Radiology System to fit your Veterinary practice

Veterinary Practice
Purchasing a digital radiography system can be a daunting task. Considerations such as service and support, detector technology, image quality, software functionality, PACS, DICOM, backup and practice management integration are topics that must be considered at some point in your digital modality purchase.

The trick is to avoid becoming overwhelmed and to evaluate each digital modality in a systematic approach.

In my many years of dealing with a wide array of Veterinarians imaging needs (34 years) I have learned the starting point for any imaging purchase discussion is which type of technology is appropriate for your practices. In this case we are talking about Digital imaging systems. The three types of detector technology are computed radiography [CR], direct digital radiography [DR], which includes Flat panel and [CCD] type cameras systems.


Determining which system is right for your practice.
The digital imaging modality you choose will be based on how these 10 factors will affect your practice and how much weight or value you place on each one.

1). Practice type
2). Cost vs. value
3). Image quality
4). Service contract costs
5). Longevity of the system
6). Is an X-ray machine also needed to be purchased?
7). Service record of equipment provider
8). Digital imaging expertise of equipment provider in veterinary medicine
9). Software integration, Dicom, Pacs capable, support costs with internet support
10). Warranties


Is a CR system the right choice for your practice? 
 
CR uses imaging plates to generate a digital image. These imaging plates are placed in a CR reader, which generates a digital image. The workflow has a similar feel to film-based systems



Despite claims made by some DR vendors, veterinarians choosing CR will see a degree of time savings and increased efficiency in radiology over film based systems.

The image quality from CR systems is equal to or superior to many DR systems. It my opinion pocket pets and exotics, CR systems may perform better than many DR systems. CR is a mature, secure technology, There are more CR systems installed and in use than any other digital technology.

Similar CR systems are used in the human medicine with only a change in software. One side benefit of purchasing this technology from DIS is our guaranteed support of the software and hardware for at least seven years even if the manufacturer stops supporting the product as long as we have the parts available.

CR provides many benefits at a lower cost than any of the DR systems. The quality CR systems DIS provides can be installed for around $30,000. This mature, secure technology with high grade image quality is the easy choice for any veterinary practice, particularly if you want to use your existing x-ray machine.

CR systems are sold by many different types of suppliers, national veterinary distributors, catalog houses and local x-ray dealers. My experience and the experience of many of our Veterinarian friends are, when purchasing a CR system the support provided by the equipment provider and the knowledge they have obtained from many years of Veterinary imaging expertise (DIS 30 years) is just as important as the CR system that is purchased. A couple of questions to ask your equipment provider: is a hot swap warranty provided at no additional charge; do you provide toll-free unlimited software support?

Next week we'll discuss CCD type DR systems and DR Flat Panels.