Premium CT Systems: Getting the Picture on Five High-End Scanners

August 1, 2009 | Evaluations & Guidance


Like any evolving technology, computed tomography (CT) has its cutting edge. All major CT manufacturers have introduced new technologies that aim to improve the clinical capabilities of CT while reducing radiation dose. The scanners that boast these advanced new features are what we call “premium” CT systems.

Each manufacturer has taken a different approach to its premium systems, and hospitals surveying the marketplace are no longer faced simply with a “battle of slices”—a competition to see which company can offer the greatest number of slices on its scanners. Rather, they’re confronted with a choice among many high-end capabilities and features, some of which are designed for specialized uses. This can make the selection process complex and challenging.

Keep in mind, though, that many hospitals shouldn’t even be considering premium systems. While some facilities may have a need for top-of-the-line scanners, we believe most should think hard before taking the plunge.

Why? Because premium systems aren’t necessary for the vast majority of applications. And in most cases, the impact of their advanced features on clinical outcomes hasn’t been established. Which means that any return on investment will depend on being able to bring in more patients (for example, through increased referrals) by promoting the scanners’ state-of-the-art capabilities, rather than being able to claim better patient care. Particularly in today’s difficult economic climate, we believe most hospitals should be thinking about lower-specification systems or upgradable platforms, rather than these very expensive “luxury” models.

If you do want to consider a premium system, it’s important to recognize that there is no one “best” choice. Each product stands out for a different reason, and prices vary considerably. (All the systems are expensive, but some are more expensive than others.) You should review our findings and each system’s capabilities carefully to be sure you’re picking the system that best matches your particular needs.

This Evaluation covers five systems:

The Siemens Somatom Definition was tested for our May 2008 Evaluation on dual-source CT, which includes our detailed findings for that product. For the other four scanners, results can be found starting in the product profiles. Below, we summarize our...

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