What You Should Know About CT Simulator X-Ray Tubes
We’ve written before about what a CT Simulator is here, and some of the considerations when choosing a model. Today we’d like to discuss the X-ray tube of a CT Simulator, and how important it is in making a purchase.
First, a brief recap of what a CT Simulator is. A CT Simulator enables precise radiation treatment of tumors. It is differentiated from a traditional CT scanner in two important ways: it is equipped with a flat, carbon fiber tabletop, and it has CT Simulation software for planning treatments, storing and manipulating images, and other imaging modalities.
Beyond its software and its cooling system, a buyer also needs to consider the X-Ray tube.
Base the Purchase on the Tube
The X-ray tube is the most expensive component of a CT Simulator and will need to be replaced most often. The tube must be able to withstand very high heat loads and, ideally, it should be able to store 5-million-heat-units (MHU) or more. High heat unit tubes last longer, which saves on downtime. A system that is less expensive may still be costly if the tube doesn’t last as long as one would in a more expensive CT Simulator.
A good indication of which CT Simulator to purchase should be based upon the tube it comes with. Each system comes with a particular tube: no options available. The review below includes some of the most popular X-ray tubes used for CT Simulation:
- Philips 8.0 MHU MRC 600 – These tubes are among the longest-lasting on the market, known to last 800,000 to 1,6000,000 scan seconds, or approximately 4–7 years at a midrange patient volume. MRC 600 tubes average $140,000 new and $40,000–$70,000 used. All things considered, Philips MRC 600 tubes are an excellent value for their longevity and availability on the used market.
- Siemens Straton 8.0 MHU – Like the Philips MRC 600, these tubes last a very long time, sometimes as long as 900,000 to 1.2 million scans . They are one of the most expensive, costing more than $200,000 to replace new and approximately $100,000 used. As more of these tubes become available on the secondary market, used tube prices should come down, making this a better option than in years past.
- GE RT 16 Hercules MX240 8.0 MHU – With a decent life expectancy, these tubes average about 6,000—10,000 patient scans, but have been known to go as high as 15,000. Dunlee makes a replacement tube, the Reevo 240 G, which is listed at $195,000; however, dealers with Dunlee accounts are afforded a steep discount. Keep in mind that GE and Dunlee both only warrant the tubes for 6,000 patient scans. Bought used, the tubes go for $75,000—$100,000. This middle-of-the-road system offers midrange affordability and longevity.
- GE RT 4 MCS7079 Varian Mini Hercules 7.5 MHU – This tube, also known as the “Snowbird” or “Mini-Hercules,” is the black sheep of the X-ray tube family, notorious for poor performance and a short life span. Since Dunlee replacement tubes aren’t available for the system, you must buy the Varian tube from GE for almost $200,000. On the used market you can find the tubes for under $100,000. But BUYER BEWARE. There are plenty of horror stories out there that should make you run from the RT 4 system.
With so many tubes on the market, it is important to weigh all of the pros and cons of each. Tubes at the lower end of the price spectrum may provide good value for a facility on a short-term limited budget, but may need replaced more often. Higher-end tubes may last longer but with a higher initial investment. Availability of used tubes is a further consideration.
With so much information out there, it can be difficult to choose. Radiology Oncology Systems is happy to help you in making the right choice for your facility.