A C-arm is a medical device used to take images based on x-rays. The C-arm consists of the x-ray source and an x-ray detector (either a flat panel detector or an image intensifier). The device is called a C-arm because the x-ray source and the x-ray detector are joined together with an arm that is shaped like a “C”. The C-arm can be used for procedures in orthopedics, heart, pain management, general procedures, and much more. However, the C-arm specification will be a bit different depending on which procedure is being conducted.
So how does the C-arm take an image?
The x-rays generated by the x-ray source penetrate the patient’s tissues, and then the x-ray detector transforms these x-rays to build an image that the physicians can view on the display monitor. The C-arm comes with an independent C-arm table, even though these items are separate, the C-arm and the C-arm table system is combined electronically and so the technician should be able to operate the system with ease. Furthermore, the C-arm can be easily rotated around the patient to get the most optimum imaging angles, and there won’t be any unwanted movements because the C-arm comes with a locking mechanism.
The C-arm is a non-invasive medical tool that can create comprehensive images and even more importantly, images are made in real-time so anatomical structures can be visualized throughout the surgery. For instance, the C-arm can help physicians make sure that catheters/needles are being positioned in the correct region of the body without damaging neighboring tissues.
The x-ray dosage given to the patient is strictly controlled by the C-arm with the use of the automated collimator. The collimator works by focusing the x-ray beams to the target region, the x-ray beams that go in a different direction will be filtered, and this ensures that minimal x-rays are reaching the patient and technician.
So then what is a mobile C-arm?
The fixed C-arm is a stationary piece of equipment placed in a dedicated room; the room is usually quite large! Whereas, the mobile C-arm has wheels and so it can be moved anywhere in the hospital and can be used in much smaller places because it doesn’t take up that much space. Therefore, the mobile C-arm is a versatile piece of equipment that can be moved to wherever it is needed in a hospital. This also means that a hospital room does not have to be dedicated to the C-arm specifically.
Mobile C-arms generate enough imaging power for nearly all procedures; however, the mobile C-arm may not be well suited for procedures such as angiography and other cardiac procedures that require a high imaging power for a prolonged period. In that case, the fixed C-arm would usually be used instead due to its ability to sustain a high imaging power for a long time.