Retrofit digital X-ray rapid growth signals advent of modular era

Rapid growth in the retrofit flat panel detector (FPD) market is predicted to signal the start of a new era in “modular” X-ray for general radiography.


Rapid growth in the retrofit flat panel detector (FPD) market is predicted to signal the start of a new era in “modular” X-ray for general radiography, according to a new report from InMedica (, part of IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc.

The recent release of new “retrofit” solutions has re-invigorated the market, with revenues for retrofit flat panel detectors forecast to grow more than 250% by 2016. While digital FPD technology is not new, the introduction of wireless flat panel detectors in 2008 demonstrated the potential for more flexible general radiography X-ray solutions. However, concerns regarding panel damage and security, paired with global economic challenges, slowed uptake.

The recent surge in demand for retrofit and wireless flat panel detector X-ray solutions demonstrates users concerns have been satisfied. Furthermore, continued penetration will usher in the start of a new era in general radiography X-ray: the “modular” approach.

The recently released second generation systems provide purchasers far greater flexibility and choice of rad-room X-ray configuration. Retrofit digital flat panel detector solutions also provide the added advantage to healthcare providers of lengthening the life-span of existing analogue X-ray equipment, while still maximizing the workflow and efficiency benefits of digital technology.

“The impact of wireless digital flat panel detectors so far is relatively low, with the majority installed in mature healthcare markets already well equipped with digital X-ray equipment” commented Stephen Holloway, senior analyst at InMedica. “However, strong competition in the flat panel market is driving price erosion of 7-10% annually, so these products will soon be more accessible to healthcare providers in emerging regions as well.”       

It is in regions such as Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia where modular general radiography X-ray systems also make most sense. Sharing of wireless panels between rooms or systems can have significant cost benefits for healthcare providers with limited budgets. Retrofitting also limits the need to purchase brand new systems, allowing use of digital X-ray at a third of the cost of a new digital system.

“Shipments of retrofit flat panel detector systems in emerging regions are forecast to grow tenfold in the next five years,” continued Holloway. “Assuming price erosion continues at the projected rate, the cost difference between computed radiography and wireless FPD will narrow. This will make flat panel systems even more attractive for healthcare providers, sustaining long-term demand.

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