Aged medical imaging equipment at worrying high according to new AXREM report


AXREM has launched the findings to its recent Medical Imaging Equipment Age Profile report, and the results provide worrying reading. Highlighting the continuing increase in age of the installed base of medical equipment across the UK, the report suggests that many patients are being scanned on equipment in excess of 10 years old and aren’t benefitting from the latest dose saving radiation measures.

According to a survey of AXREM member organisations, some 55% of CT scanners in the UK are more than 5 years old, with 12% being over 10 years old and it’s this continued use of older equipment which is potentially exposing many patients to unnecessary risk. The industry is continuously innovating, and developing equipment that optimises levels of radiation while maintaining and enhancing the quality of images and patient throughput however, a lack of investment has resulted in both an aged installed base and older equipment not being replaced for safer, improved models.

The clinical importance of planning for timely replacement of equipment has been recognised by The European Society of Radiology, within its positioning paper ‘Renewal of Radiological Equipment’. This paper stated that, “equipment less than five years old is state-of-the-art technology. Properly maintained equipment between six and ten years old is suitable for practice, but radiology departments should develop a strategy to replace them. Machines over ten years old must be replaced.” With this in mind, stakeholders and healthcare providers need to share the same commitment to reducing dose reduction and optimisation when replacing aging equipment in a bid to enhance patient safety.

The benefits to patients and clinicians of renewing the Medical Imaging Technology base are clear and irrefutable and this is where we can help. Jane Kilkenny, Country Business Lead – Diagnostic Imaging at Siemens Healthineers comments: “The use of older scanning equipment in the NHS is an area that should be of concern to clinicians and patients alike. CT scanners use ionising radiation, and the patient dose is controlled to limit potential adverse effects. Thanks to technological innovation, newer CT scanners can typically acquire diagnostic images with lower levels of radiation, thus reducing risk to the patient. Patients should not be denied the benefit of such developments”

“Imaging technology and service provides can assist NHS Trusts to gain access to the latest technology solutions. This support can include financed solutions such as managed equipment services or ‘pay-as-you-scan’ tariff approaches, and can also extend to supporting Trusts with staffing solutions to complement their own clinical terms,” she concluded.

Innovative imaging technology offers a real opportunity to improve clinical care and patient safety as well as operational efficiency. Given appropriate contracting and investment, more hospitals and patients in the UK will benefit from ongoing advances in medical technology.