While healthcare costs continue to skyrocket, politicians debate what’s happening, and the rest of us worry about how to pay for medications and an overnight stay in the hospital, we are overlooking something. And that’s the cost of the medical equipment that doctors and technicians use every day. The focus of the healthcare debate is always centered around pharmaceuticals and the cost of drugs. It’s an important topic for sure, as many sick people are being priced right out of the market. But medical devices and machines are expensive and necessary, so their cost must be considered when debating healthcare costs. Hospitals and clinics need these devices to diagnose and treat patients so they must have them, and they must pay for them. Here are five of the most expensive medical devices, to give you an idea of how much these lifesaving machines cost.
A computed tomography (CT) scan uses x-rays to take pictures of any part of the human body to allow a doctor to see what’s going on inside. The images created via CT scan are more detailed than normal x-rays and display the tiniest of details. A narrow x-ray beam circles around the desired body part and crafts an image from many different angles and creates “slices” or cross-sectional pictures. The most expensive CT scanner on the market produces 640 slices and costs around $2.8 million.
Surgical robots are used for minimally invasive surgeries that would otherwise require larger incisions. Surgeons use the surgical robots to perform the surgery instead of doing it themselves by hand. They operate the mechanisms of the robot from a control center and watch via monitor. The da Vinci robots are the most advanced in the world and cost between $1.85 and $2.3 million dollars. On top of the price tag is $125,000 in annual maintenance costs.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET) can combine with either MRI or CT technology to produce images. It can detect biochemical and physiologic activity in the body. Using a radioactive tracer, the scan will reveal how the organs and tissues in the body are functioning. It can detect terminal diseases before they present themselves in other ways. They cost around $2.5 million due to the radioactive drugs and the extra equipment needed to view the images.
Compared to the other devices, ultrasound machines seem less intricate, but they aren’t. Ultrasounds are similar to CT scanners in that they make images of internal organs and tissues, but they use sound waves to do it. The most expensive machines on the market start around $120,000 and can top out at around $500,000 depending on ultrasound technological options and AI capabilities.