When choosing technology for your practice you want to ensure you’re not only getting the best price, but the best fit for your practice workflow. A cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) system can be a big investment so you’ll want to consider many factors when shopping for a new unit.
Let’s start with the obvious: Does your practice have the space for a CBCT system? Even if you think you don’t, technology has come a long way. CBCT systems released in the past few years can now literally fit inside closets. I’ve seen “before and after” pictures of cluttered bookshelves tucked in a corner one day and a compact 3D imaging system the next. Look for small footprints if you’re buying a new system, or ask if your existing pan system has the ability to upgrade to 3D.
Field of View
Obviously, different specialists value different fields of view. An endodontist wouldn’t dream of investing in a unit that didn’t feature a focused field of view while a general practitioner might not require such detail. However, new units feature multiple FOVs to allow practitioners even more options when diagnosing and treating patients. Can you imagine purchasing a CBCT system and still having to refer a patient to an imaging center if an unusual case arose? Also, programs exist that allow you to “test drive” different fields of view before committing to purchasing them.
By its very nature, CBCT captures images faster and at a lower dose than CT, but certain features of a unit can provide even faster scans. This is particularly important to consider if you work with children or special needs patients who may not hold still for extended periods. Seek out low dose or fast scan modes that can capture scans in seconds and deliver less radiation to your most vulnerable patients.
Add-Ons and Upgrades
Hopefully, as your practice grows, you’ll have the opportunity to invest in more technology down the line. When looking for a CBCT unit, be sure to consider the possibility of future upgrades or add-ons. I’ve already mentioned some, such as 3D capabilities; different FOVs; and modes to increase speed. Some units even offer cephalometric arm attachments. Imaging filters are another way to enhance and personalize your system to meet your needs. If these “extras” aren’t something you can afford now, it’s wise to check if these options will be available to you in the future (keeping you from having to purchase a whole new system in a few years).
Not all systems “play nice” with each other. Before you invest in a system, make sure that it’s compatible with your existing practice management software. Look for systems that allow imaging and front desk software to integrate seamlessly for a smooth user experience.
An often overlooked feature of a big investment such as a CBCT system is support. Look for a company with expanded support hours—if the call center closes at 5:00 p.m. on the east coast but you’re in Ohio with issues at 4:00 p.m., who’s going to help you? A CBCT is an investment that you want to see last for years, therefore, extended warranties are also important to consider.
A CBCT system is a big investment. Take your time, consider your options and remember these tips when finding the system that’s right for you, your staff and your patients.