Are you interested in purchasing a computed radiography (CR) system and are still unsure about what to expect out of your system and what benefits are to choosing a CR system over a DR system? Below we outline the main different component and features they offer, as well as the benefits you may see out of upgrading your system in your office.
Interested in learning more about what CR system actually is? Read our helpful information blog post with more on the topic here.
There are a number of significant benefits to using CR rather than film-based radiography and DR. We’ll go over the key advantages in some detail so you can determine if CR is the right choice for you.
- CR images can be enhanced and manipulated digitally to aid in interpretation. Viewers can zoom in, enhance with special algorithms, adjust brightness and contrast, draw accurate measurements and more without damaging the original image.
- The flexibility in manipulating images mentioned above allows for fewer retakes resulting from minor under- or overexposure. This results in lower radiation dosages for patients.
- CR images can be easily and quickly distributed digitally regardless of geography. This allows for a greater selection of potential reading radiologists to work with. It also eliminates the need for couriers and results in potentially faster interpretation turn-around times.
- There are numerous options for digitally storing CR images. All of them take up substantially less storage space and are frequently much less expensive than what is required for traditional x-ray films. These options include: PACS Server, mini-PACS server, CD, DVD and off-site storage. For an explanation of PACS and a description of the additional benefits to using PACS, mini-PACS or off-site storage please refer to our PACS Buyer’s Guide.
- CR systems come in many shapes and sizes. Table top, wall-mounted and upright models are the most common. Table-top models can often be used in mobile x-ray vehicles or be placed on carts and wheeled to various rooms as needed. Because CR uses cassettes, the readers and workstations can be placed in any convenient room that has power and network connectivity (if needed).
- Using CR systems may result in reduced overall costs. CRs have no consumables and most require very little maintenance. This greatly reduces downtime for service and eliminates the worry of running out of chemicals and film.
- CRs work with existing x-ray generating equipment. The cassettes fit into standard buckeys and require no retrofitting. Care providers without existing x-ray equipment can buy inexpensive, new or used equipment.
There are many standard and optional features for CR systems. Knowing what’s available makes selecting the right CR system easier and more cost-effective. The features vary based on make and model, but some of the most common ones are listed below.
- Reader Type: Table top, upright, wall-mounted and more. It may also have an option for a stand or cart. Some models may be designed to work well in vehicles.
- Image Quality: CRs generally have excellent image quality with some variation between the models and manufacturers. A limited number of CR systems are FDA approved for mammography.
- DICOM Store Compatibility: This option allows the CR to send images to viewing workstations, PACS servers and other destinations based on DICOM standards. It comes in two forms: multi-destination, which allows the CR to send to multiple destinations (Example: daytime reading radiologist or nighttime reading radiologist) and auto-send, when an x-ray study is completed it can be automatically sent to a destination.
- DICOM Print Compatibility: If physical films are required, a CR can print directly to a digital DICOM film printer. These printers must be purchased separately.
- Modality Worklist Compatibility: This feature allows a CR system to connect to a RIS, EMR or HIS generated modality worklist. Note that in order for this feature to work modality worklist has be enabled and active on an electronic medical record system.
- CD/DVD Burning: A common method of distributing CR images is on a CD or a DVD. Often these include burned-in viewing software.
- Quality Control Software: This allows the technologist or doctor to fine tune the quality of the image, add markers or notes, and more before finalizing the image for interpretation. Stitching is a term often used for spine or full-body x-rays because they sometimes require multiple cassettes and some QC software will automatically or manually stitch the separate images together to create a single, larger image.
- Cassette sizes: Most CR systems have a variety of cassette sizes available. The most common sizes are 10″ x 12″ and 14″x 17″. Available sizes may also include 10″x 10″, 11″x 14″, 8″x 10″ and others.
- Cassettes per hour: Most CR systems calculate speed in cassettes per hour. This measures the number of cassettes that can be scanned in an hour. This number can be somewhat misleading because it doesn’t include the time required to enter patient information, perform quality control, etc. However, because the speed of most CR systems is measured this way, it can be a good relative guide.
- Multiple or Single Plate Reader: CR systems come in a couple of varieties. Single plate readers will accept and scan one plate at a time, while multi plate readers will accept multiple plates at once. Multi plate readers are generally used in very high volume settings and can be substantially more expensive than single plate readers.
- Touch Screen or Mouse/Keyboard Controls: CR systems often give the option of a touch screen or mouse and keyboard control. It is mostly a matter of workspace size and user preference.
- Mini-PACS and/or built-in Web Viewer: Generally designed for smaller providers, this works as an “all-in-one” option for storage and web viewing. It is not widely available from all manufacturers, but can be very cost effective in certain circumstances.