With all the different C-arms available today, knowing which one to choose for your facility can be challenging. Many factors go into making the right choice, from sizes to warranty to image quality. For general surgery, orthopedic and urology procedures, a 9″ image intensifier with no unique options is ideal. For vascular and neurology examinations, 12″ with bigger tube/generator capacity and more extensive image storage along with the subtraction and road map options are preferable.

Dose Reduction

The C-arm’s flat detector increases image quality, enhances reliability, and decreases time spent on the operating table, but it can also lead to significant radiation exposure for surgeons if misused. To reduce this risk, a few key considerations were made by c-arm manufacturers. For example, the Orthoscan FD from Ziehm Imaging (Orthoscan is a subbrand of theirs) features a large flat-panel detector and high-resolution diagnostic touchscreen monitor that can be positioned to minimize patient and OR staff exposure to unused areas. Its low-dose mode lowers dose rates by up to 34% while providing clinically equivalent images and a large view in preview mode, allowing clinicians to expand images by 50%. Meanwhile, a wide range of motion allows support staff to position the C-arm’s rotating flat-panel image detector to capture distortion-free images of extremities. Its selectable pulsed fluoroscopy at 30, 15, 7.5, and 2 pps and optimized dose filtration can reduce image-quality sacrifice and exposure to surgeons and OR staff.

Image Quality

Look for a mini C-arm with high-resolution image quality for orthopedic, trauma, and vascular procedures. The resolution can be determined by looking at the lines per inch (LPI). The higher, the better. Some C-arms with flat detectors have better image quality than traditional image intensifiers. This has been proven in observer-based imaging studies using contrast-detail phantoms. Choosing the right mini-C arm for your practice depends on many factors. Consider your surgeons and radiographers’ preferences and ask them to try different systems. Ask the vendor for a list of features and a cost estimate so you can make an informed decision that fits your budget and needs. Also, consider the operating room’s power supply, since drops and surges can affect the system’s performance. They are part computer after all, and just as susceptible to any electronic interference.


Ensure your C-arm can be used for a wide range of surgical applications. Ideally, you want your device suitable for renal drainage, abdominal and thoracic aortic aneurysm repair, percutaneous valve replacement, spinal cord stimulation, orthopedics, pain management, and more. Consider how intricately the system can position itself for imaging hard-to-reach areas. You can get a sense of this from the specs, but also ask your surgeons and radiographers during a trial period how intuitive they find the positioning capabilities.


The right C-arm size depends on your procedures. You’ll want a compact system if you primarily perform orthopedics, urology, or vascular surgeries. These feature the minor arc to fit patients and surgical tables, the lowest generator power to scan through dense body areas, and sometimes fewer software options than a full-size C-arm. A mini c-arm that features a flat panel detector that produces images without optical conversion. This reduces radiation exposure for medical staff and patient, as mentioned above. Generally, the smaller they are, the less power and radation they can produce as well.


When buying a mini C-arm, read the warranty terms and conditions carefully. This will protect you from any potential problems down the road. Also, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and maintenance schedule. This will prevent you from unintentionally voiding the warranty and avoid any legal complications in the future. Beyond that, shop with a warranty in mind. If you’d like a lower cost of ownership over the life of the C-arm, then a service plan or warranty can certainly aid in that goal.