Types of X-Ray Systems

Jun 27, 2022 10:18:32 PM / by Chad Hutchison

Imaging solutions have come a long way in recent years and there are now a number of different options available to meet the needs of businesses of all sizes.

When investing in a system, it’s understandable to feel uncertain about which system will best suit the individual needs of your business and you undoubtedly want to assess the long-term economic implications of your purchase.

Whether you’re in the field of Chiropractic, Urgent Care, Orthopedics, Podiatry, Radiology or Veterinary care, let’s look at the most important considerations when deciding which imaging system will work best for your business.

Advantages of digital x-ray over film

When it comes to diagnosing patients, speed is of the essence. Every minute that a health practitioner has to wait for test results is a minute that the patient isn't getting the treatment they need. Thankfully, digital x-rays are a huge improvement over the old film-based x-ray systems.

Not only is the processing time much faster, but there are also no dangerous chemicals involved. Instead, the x-ray image is sent directly from the digital x-ray machine to a computer, where it can be viewed almost instantaneously. The digital image can then be easily shared for health practitioners to consult with each other.

If you need to send an image to another specialist or to a patient's insurance company, you can do so quickly and easily. All you need to do is send the file electronically through secure web-based viewers or via email.

Cost benefits of digital x-ray vs film?

When looking at going digital, there's a common misconception that there's going to be a great cost to make the initial purchase. However, nowadays it's almost the same price to purchase a digital x-ray system if you finance it over a 72 month period as what you would spend on a monthly basis for film and chemicals.

When looking at the cost of switching to a digital x-ray system, it's important to consider the long-term benefits. There is an initial investment to purchase the equipment, however, over time you will save money on consumables such as film and chemicals. And because digital x-rays are more efficient, you'll save time and money on staff costs as well.

If you are still using film-based x-ray systems, you may have noticed that the cost of film and chemicals, as well as the cost of maintaining your film processor, keep going up. This is because there are not as many people using film-based x-ray systems.

Digital x-ray uses less radiation than film-based systems, so it is safer for patients and staff. It also eliminates the need for darkrooms and chemicals, which can save money in the long run. In addition, digital x-ray is more efficient, so you can see more patients in a shorter period of time.

For a deeper dive into the cost benefits of digital X-Ray vs Film, take a look at our blog.

Purchasing x-ray systems: what not to do

When purchasing x-ray machines, there are a lot of different types on the market with advantages and disadvantages associated with each. It's important to find the x-ray system that's right for your needs. You should take into account factors like price, features and warranty when making your decision. Here are some common mistakes that could cost you time and money:

Making shortsighted decisions

When purchasing x-ray systems, it's important to think about what your future needs will be. Many clinics start with just a few employees and a relatively small number of patients, but as the clinic grows, you'll likely need more capabilities from your x-ray system.

Purchasing a used x-ray system

When purchasing x-ray systems, a used system can be tempting, especially when faced with the high cost of new equipment. However, it's important to keep in mind that a used x-ray system may not provide the same level of performance or reliability as a new system. older systems may not be compatible with newer technology, which could limit your ability to take full advantage of advances in imaging technology.

We typically recommend purchasing a new x-ray system. However, we understand that budget constraints may dictate otherwise. If you do decide to purchase a used system, we recommend working with a reputable dealer who can provide you with a detailed history of the system and offer a warranty or service contract.

Purchasing x-ray technology that is outdated

Outdated x-ray technology can be a real problem when purchasing x-ray systems. CR technology is the oldest system for taking digital x-rays, and while it's still in use, it's not as accurate as newer systems. CCD is somewhat newer but is still considered old technology. Then there is GadOx and cesium which are both flat panel DR technologies that are relatively new. However, we recommend staying away from anything other than cesium technology.

Not working with a technology-driven x-ray company

Many customers come to us after purchasing x-ray systems from companies that aren't technology-driven. They might have been using analog systems for years and are used to film and chemical processing. We always recommend choosing to work with someone that has a very strong technical support team. Over the life of your x-ray system you will find it to be extremely helpful.

Forgetting to back up your data

One of the best ways to protect your digital x-ray data is to back it up regularly. There are a number of different ways to do this and the best solution will depend on your specific needs. For example, you may want to use an external hard drive or a cloud-based PAC system.

Choosing price over quality

A lot of customers tend to want to go with the cheapest option for their x-ray system. However, going with the cheapest system isn't always the best decision. You may end up sacrificing important aspects, such as product quality or service and support. It's important to consider all factors before making a decision.

Forgetting to check the warranty

Many customers don't realize that x-ray systems usually come with a basic warranty (which is often 1-5 years). Without an extended warranty, the customer may have to pay for repairs a few years down the road. To avoid this, it's important to ask about warranties before purchase, and to consider purchasing an extended warranty. That way, you'll be covered in case of any future problems.

Not getting a professional opinion when moving

If you're signing a long-term lease, it's essential to consult with an equipment provider beforehand to make sure that your new space will be able to accommodate your x-ray system. Otherwise, you could be facing costly modifications or even be forced to find a new location altogether. By doing your research upfront, you can save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run.

Computed Radiography (CR) vs. Digital Radiography (DR): which is right for you?

CR stands for computed radiography, which is a cassette based system that has a reader. The cassette has a Phosphor plate inside it, which is used to take the x-ray. Some disadvantages of a CR reader is that it’s very time consuming. It's not as quick as a DR, which can see the image within a matter of seconds.The other thing is, its risk for potentially overexposing patients. The benefit with DRs is that we can see immediately if we need to do a retake, for example if the patient was moving.

The cost of a CR system is typically less expensive. However, there are fewer and fewer vendors selling CR systems. So the cost of ongoing maintenance on a CR tends to be more expensive.

The one benefit with the CR is that if the cassettes are dropped, it will not have the same type of damage that a DR system would have. If you drop the plate of a DR system, there is a chance it will be damaged which can be a very expensive repair.

Time is the most important thing and that's where a DR system really shines. Traditionally, both CR and DR produce good image quality and they're both digital. But some of the newer technology with DR is providing better image quality. And in many cases a lower dose of radiation.

CDR Straight-Arm X-Ray: A Low Profile Solution

The CDR straight-arm x-ray system is a new advanced system that was released in 2021, designed specifically for chiropractic care. This system is smaller and more compact than the traditional straight-arm, which makes it ideal for chiropractors with limited space. The CDR comes with many features and few downsides, so if you are looking for an easy-to-use system that will fit virtually anywhere then this just might be your solution.

Benefits of CDRs

There are a multitude of benefits of the CDR that make it a great tool to have in your practice. Firstly, the CDR is smaller and more compact than the traditional straight arm, which makes it a great option if you have limited space.

CDRs also come with head to toe positioning, which allows you to seamlessly raise and lower the CDR to accommodate all standing exams from skull to lower extremities. Additionally, x-ray techniques are seamlessly preselected based on the anatomical region of the exam making sure your x-rays are consistent.

Finally, CDRs are faster to install than traditional units. This x-ray system can fit in small x-ray rooms and significantly cuts down installation time. Where a traditional system installation may take 1-1.5 days, a CDR can be installed in a matter of hours.

Disadvantages of CDRs

There aren't many disadvantages to a CDR, however there are a couple that should be weighed up depending on what you will be using the x-ray system for. The first is that the CDR is limited to only doing a 40 SID x-ray shot, whereas a traditional straight-arm can do both 72 SID and 40 SID shots. Additionally, unlike a traditional straight-arm x-ray system, CDRs cannot take table shots.

For further information on comparing the traditional straight arm with the CDR X-Ray system, take a look at our blog.

Mobile x-ray systems

Mobile x-ray systems are a great option as opposed to wall mounted units which require electrical power from standard outlets. Mobile x-ray systems offer more flexibility as they are usually battery operated and ideal if you want something lightweight and portable. This allows you to have imaging capabilities in situations where a traditional x-ray machine is unfeasible.

Benefits of using mobile x-rays

When it comes to mobile x-rays, there are two major benefits that really stand out; portability and space saving. Having the ability to move from room to room or location to location can make this an ideal system for health practitioners. In terms of space saving, mobile x-ray systems are significantly smaller than their counterparts. This means that they can be stored away easily when not in use, freeing up valuable space in your clinic or office.

Downsides of mobile x-rays

As mobile x-ray systems become increasingly popular, it is important to be aware of their potential downsides. One of the main drawbacks is that they often do not produce images of the same quality as traditional x-ray systems when used on larger patients. This is due to the fact that mobile x-rays typically emit a lower dose of radiation than a traditional x-ray system, which can impact the image quality.


X-ray systems are a big investment, so it's important to do your research and plan for the future before making your purchase. It’s also important to familiarize yourself with the most common mistakes buyers make when purchasing their system so you can avoid costly errors.

There are many factors to consider when deciding whether or not to upgrade to digital x-ray from traditional film, such as whether or not the digital x-ray will deliver cost benefits, whether it will increase the diagnostic potential and whether it will save time. You should also consider whether or not a mobile system would best suit your needs.

If you're in the market for an x-ray system, be sure to reach out to us. We offer a wide variety of x-ray systems, so you're sure to find one that aligns with your business requirements. We also offer warranties and service plans so you can be confident in your purchase. After you purchase your x-ray system, we'll still be here to help you with any questions or problems you have.

Give us a call today!

Tags: Digital X-ray System

Chad Hutchison

Written by Chad Hutchison

Founder and CEO of Maven Imaging, Chad Hutchison has been in the medical imaging equipment market since 2003. As his business grew, he pioneered buying and selling medical equipment online and eventually began offering leasing and financing to meet market demands and help customers. His market expertise goes beyond traditional medical imaging and finance support, as he’s spearheading cloud-based lending solutions for vendors across the sector.