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Which Type of C-Arm Machine Should I Buy?

November 13, 2020

Buying a C-arm machine can be a daunting process, especially when you are a first-timer. You obviously want to buy the right equipment and not waste your money!

There are different types of C-arm machines available to purchase. Finding out about the different types will help you figure out which one you want to buy. The three main types of C-arms include the mini C-arm, compact C-arm, and full C-arm.


Mini C-arm

The mini C-arm, as the name suggests, is a small-sized C-arm. Mini C-arms are usually less than 63.5 cm tall and only weigh 50 lbs. As well as being physically small, they come with a smaller image intensifier than usual. Specifically, mini C-arms come with a 6” image intensifier.

GE, OrthoScan, and Hologic are the leading manufacturers of mini C-arms. Mini C-arms are used to take images of the extremities, such as hands, feet, or ankles. Surgeons can use the mini C-arm to find fractures, bunion surgery, metatarsal foot surgery, fixing fractures, etc.

Mini C-arms emit less radiation than their larger counterparts. A study found that mini C-arms release 120-400 mrem/min. In contrast, full-sized C-arms emit 200 to 4000 mrem/min of radiation.

Pros and Cons

✔️The mini C-arm doesn’t take up a lot of space.

✔️The mini C-arm is cheaper than the larger C-arms.

✔️Lower waiting times as the mini C-arm can be used anywhere.

✔️The mini C-arm is versatile as it can be used during surgery or in the clinics.

✔️Reduced radiation exposure when using a mini C-arm.

❌The mini C-arm can’t be used for anything other than the extremities

❌Image quality is lower than normal-sized C-arms due to the low power X-ray generator.


Compact C-arm

The compact C-arm is a mixture between the mini C-arm and the full-sized C-arm. It offers similar capabilities as the full C-arm but takes up less space. Although, it’s certainly not the same size as the mini C-arm either.

Compact C-arms generally weigh less than 600 lbs and are around 170 cm tall, but this will vary depending on the manufacturing company. Compact C-arms come with a 9” image intensifier maximum.

The companies that offer compact C-arms include Siemens, Philips, and GE Healthcare. Some C-arm models that are compact include OEC 7600, Philips Libra, and OEC 7700.

Pros and Cons

✔️It can be used for different body parts, not just the extremities.

✔️It’s more lightweight and takes up less space than the full-sized C-arm.

❌Doesn’t usually have a 12” image intensifier (9” max).

❌Lower imaging quality compared to full-sized C-arms.


Full C-arm

The full-sized C-arms are the most commonly used type of C-arm. They usually come with a flat panel detector or a 9”/12” image intensifier. Full C-arms typically weigh upwards of 650 lbs and are around 180 cm tall, but this will vary depending on the manufacturing company.  

The companies that offer full-sized C-arms include Siemens, Ziehm, Philips, and GE Healthcare. Some C-arm models that are full-sized include OEC 9000, Philips Pulsera, and Philips Veradius.

Full-sized C-arms are suitable for all types of imaging, including the extremities. The high-power x-ray generator allows high-quality images to be taken.

As full-sized C-arms have 9” and 12” image intensifiers, this makes them ideal for vascular surgeries, general surgery, orthopedics, and much more.

Pros and Cons

✔️High-quality imaging with a high-power x-ray generator.

✔️It can image all body parts, not just the extremities.

❌A higher radiation dose compared to mini C-arms.

❌It takes up more room and would need to be kept in a larger space.

❌Generally more expensive than mini C-arms.


Which C-Arm should I buy then?

Well, this entirely depends on your personal needs and preferences. If you need the C-arm machine just for the extremities, then a mini C-arm would be ok to use. Whereas, for cardiac procedures, you would need a larger C-arm.

The type of C-arm machine you should buy will depend on what you need it for, but it will also depend on:

  • How much space you have available?
  • How much you want to spend?

Used vs New C-arm
C-arms can be very expensive and that may influence whether to purchase a new or used machine. That will depend on your budget and specific needs.  You can purchase C-arms from an online auction like ours ( at a much lower price than purchasing new direct from the manufacturer.  Some elements to consider if you plan to purchased used include: 
  • Has it been refurbished and recertified?
  • Is there a warranty included?
  • Is it properly taking images?
  • Are there any mobility issues?
If there are issues with it, I wouldn't worry too much.  There are many companies that repair and refurbish C-arms you can reach out to. Just take repair costs into consideration.  If you're worried about managing repairs but would like to sav money by buying a used C-arm then purchase one that has already been refurbished, recertified, and comes with a warranty.


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