Why the Prices of Used CT Skyrockets
And what to look out for
Estimated reading time: 3 min
One of the clear advantages of buying a used CT scanner is that you get very high-quality equipment for a very reasonable amount of money. Obviously, this is highly beneficial for a new or small clinic or when you have a limited budget and still want to give your patients excellent care.
In 2020 the prices for a used CT scanner went skyrocketing. The reason for that is pretty simple: A sudden and massive increase in demand. This very high and worldwide demand for (used) CT scanners is in tight correlation with COVID-19. The reason is they get used for Covid-19 screening and diagnostics. Pushing up the prices of used scanners as the demand is tremendously high.
We even saw OEMs selling their own used systems as their factories were unable to supply enough new systems! Concurrent, the supply of used scanners from western hospitals is at an all-time low, as they are too busy with COVID-19 to replace their older scanners. It all adds up, creating a “perfect storm” resulting in high CT prices.
Finding a cheap CT scanner is not impossible, but the bar defining what is cheap has risen.
How do you determine if a low-priced CT is a good buy?
First of all, I strongly recommend you to be very careful about buying a low-priced CT. Systems bought too cheaply only too often ends up being very expensive in extra repairs and general maintenance. There are a few key things which can explain (and perhaps justify) a surprisingly low buying price. Below is a list and also some of the concerns related to this.
- The CT will be timeworn. Things will start breaking. It can sometimes be difficult to source needed spare parts for older systems. This results in additional expenses to the initial buying price.
- The CT has a very high tube count. Inevitably you will soon need to replace the X-ray tube, which is a very costly part. A new tube can cost anything from USD 20k to USD 200k depending on what system you buy. Again, adding to the initial cost as well as the lifetime investment.
- The CT is in bad condition or has a bad service history. Possibly even making re-installation of the equipment impossible – or as a minimum inflict many extra expenses for parts and repair.
Often a mix of the above points will be “the perfect storm” for any clinic. You will, in the end, be spending a great deal more than for instance an initial $30.000 to get a low-priced system “as it is” up and running.
It could be a hoax
If someone is offering you an eye-catching CT with a satisfying tube at a low price, then most likely it is a scam. If so, you will lose all your money. Please be very careful. If it looks too good to be true, then most like it is because it is. Personally, I would recommend you would only buy a system from a company which is also a member of IAMERS. This brings you security.
To get a decent mid-range CT system in today’s market, you should expect to pay between $60.000 and $90.000 “as is”. On top would come refurbishment, shipping, site preparations, installation, warranty etc.
Of course, it always depends on the model, tube count, vintage and much more – but at least it gives you some idea of the level.
No matter how you look at it, for the time being there is substantial demand for CT scanners worldwide. In combination with the fact that the western hospitals are postponing replacing their CT scanners, this results in a significant increase in the prices.
Either you bite the bullet and pay the current prices or you wait for the market to come back down. This could happen tomorrow or in 2022 – your guess is almost as good as mine 😉 .
Otherwise, you will have to look into other options. Perhaps consider other modalities that can assist your diagnostic capabilities? It obviously depends on what type of patients you got and the exams you do. But for a low-budget clinic in remote locations, it is often worthwhile considering if an ultrasound system, a mobile X-ray or a C-arm can do the trick.