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GE OEC C-Arm Manufacturer Spotlight

Posted by Alex Silbergleit on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 @ 13:10 PM

As we head into the final months of 2016, we thought it would be a good time to showcase each C-Arm manufacture and discuss our opinions on their C-Arms and where they are headed as a company.

Our first spotlight is OEC C-ArmsOEC C-ARMs1

OEC has been through a lot over the past 25+ years. From highs like the revolutionary release of the OEC 9600 in 1994, to lows like the FDA shut-down imposed on them in 2006, OEC has endured through it all. They have remained the leader in the C-Arm market. Let's take a look at the OEC catalog and discuss each C-Arm’s current relevance.

OEC 9000: This system was great... 25 years ago. The OEC 9000 C-Arm stayed relevant for a while due to international interest in Central and South America but now they are too old. 

OEC 9400: Similar to the OEC 9000, the OEC 9400 C-Arm is just too old. These C-Arms had a steering mechanism that some doctors loved. If you have a functional OEC 9400 that is not used excessively it can still be relied on to an extent, especially if kept for the purpose of being a back-up C-Arm. There is still limited interest in OEC 9400s internationally. The biggest problem with OEC 9400 C-Arms is parts scarcity, making it increasingly difficult to repair when they have functional issues. 

OEC 9600: The OEC 9600 C-Arm is the Michael Jordan of all C-Arms. There has never been a C-Arm as sturdy and as seamless as the OEC 9600 before its release. Even today, this system is resold with regularity across the USA. It doesn't have the image quality, DICOM capability or the modern features that the OEC 9800 and OEC 9900 have, but it makes up for that with its continued reliability. Manufactured between 1994 - 1999, the OEC 9600 is the only C-Arm from that generation that is still relevant today. Considering how popular the OEC 9600 was in its hay-day, there are still ample replacement parts available on the market. The time will come when the OEC 9600 is at its end of life, but now is not that time. 

OEC 9800 - With an initial release in 1999, the OEC 9800 C-Arm hit the ground running and capitalized off the success of the OEC 9600. Very similar in design, the OEC 9800 differed by having a stronger generator, larger image storage, touch screen monitors and DICOM capability. The OEC 9800 quickly grabbed the largest market share of any C-Arm model in the United States. Though not quite as sturdy as the OEC 9600 was, OEC did not put proprietary restrictions on working on their system, thus enabling third-party engineers to repair the equipment with relative ease. With a similar software platform to the OEC 9600, OEC 6600, and OEC 6800, OEC started to build the brand loyalty with the OEC 9800 that still exists today. OEC 9800s remain the most commonly resold C-Arm on the market. 

OEC 9900 - The introduction of the OEC 9900 C-Arm came at a time of turmoil for OEC. Due to issues with their software, the FDA put a work stoppage on OEC which stopped them from selling and manufacturing C-Arms. One would think this would hurt their market share, but the OEC reputation lived on thanks to the sale of their C-Arms by many resellers. Once the work stoppage was lifted, OEC rolled out their OEC 9900 C-Arms and facilities started buying them as if nothing had ever happened.

The OEC 9900 is similar to the OEC 9800 but with modern upgrades like flat screen monitors on an articulating arm, USB input for transferring images and wireless DICOM. It also has a stronger generator than the OEC 9800. The biggest knock on the OEC 9900 is that it is held at such high regard that it is significantly more expensive on the resale market than its counterparts of the same age made by Siemens and Philips. That said, most facilities loyal to OEC feel it is money well spent.

OEC 6600/6800 - OEC was early to the Mini C-Arm market with the introduction of the OEC 6600 Mini C-Arm in 1996. At the time, it was a great Mini C-Arm, significantly better than the Xiscan that had hit the market a few years earlier and on par with the Fluoroscan product line. The OEC 6600 was manufactured until 2000 when the OEC 6800 was released. With the touch screen monitors, higher image storage and different packages (Clinical Package and Hospital Package), the 6800 C-Arm quickly became the gold standard of the mini market. The Fluoroscan Premier and Premier Encore was also a great Mini C-Arm but most facilities preferred the OEC 6800, especially if they already had a full sized C-Arm. The OEC 6800 remained the Mini C-Arm of choice nationwide until the FDA shutdown of OEC. When the work stoppage was lifted, OEC put their full efforts into the OEC 9800 and 9900 and discontinued their Mini C-Arm. While the OEC 6600 is considered end of life at this point, refurbished OEC 6800s are still sold with regularity especially as a cheaper alternative to the Hologic and Orthoscan Mini C-Arms that dominate the market currently.

OEC has also released the OEC Brivo C-Arm aimed at smaller clinics as an affordable alternative to the OEC 9900 C-Arm. The OEC Brivo is slightly smaller than the OEC 9900 and also does not have a rotating anode so this system is only ideal for facilities that don't use their system all-day every-day. 

GE OEC is in an interesting place right now. Their early models, specifically the OEC 9800 and OEC 9600 to some extent, dominate the resale market. The OEC 9900, which are still being sold new, are starting to hit the market which enables them to be refurbished and resold. GE OEC as a company is trying to compete with resellers by refurbishing their own systems (both OEC 9800s and 9900s) but these systems are still very expensive. We have also seen issues with their refurbished C-Arms as OEC appears to be better at manufacturing C-Arms than they are at refurbishing them.

The FDA shutdown enforced on GE OEC impacted them most with their research and development. OEC wasn't allowed to do R&D during the shutdown and thus fell behind Philips, Siemens and Ziehm with Flat Panel Detector Technology. That is the reason OEC has yet to come out with the FPD C-Arm. With that said, OEC is expected to come out with an FPD C-Arm in the not too distant future. They are also expected to come out with a new line of mini C-arms.

One thing that won’t change is that OEC has dominated the resale market for almost 20 years, thanks to resellers like Atlantis Worldwide, and that is not likely to change any time soon. For more information contact us today!

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Meet the author: Alex Silbergleit



Topics: Medical Imaging Comparisons, C-Arm