Quick Stat: Selected Medical Imaging Equipment in Canada

Equipment Type Definitions:

  • Computed Tomography (CT): SS = Single-Slice, MS = Multi-Slice, M = Mobile.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI): #T = Tesla Strength, H = Horizontal bore, V = Vertical upright, M = Mobile, OB=Open Bore, WB=Wide Bore, NB= Narrow Bore (<=60cm), LC=Long cylinder, SC=Short cylinder.
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET): H = Head only, F = Full body.
  • Gamma Camera (Gamma) - Nuclear Medicine: SH = Single head, DH = Dual head, TH = Triple head.
  • Single Photon Emission Computed Tomography (SPECT) - Nuclear Medicine: SH = Single head, DH = Dual head, TH = Triple head.
  • Fusion Technology - PET/CT: SS = Single-Slice, MS = Multi-Slice, M = Mobile.
  •  Fusion Technology - SPECT/CT: SS = Single-Slice, MS = Multi-Slice, M = Mobile.

Other Terms:

  • PAC = Picture Archiving Communications Systems utilized
  • Age = Age of equipment in years

Hospital: An institution where patients are accommodated on the basis of medical need and are provided with continuing medical care and supporting diagnostic and therapeutic services. Hospitals are licensed or approved as hospitals by a provincial/territorial government or are operated by the Government of Canada. Included are those providing acute care, extended and chronic care, rehabilitation and convalescent care, and psychiatric care.

Clinic (or Free-Standing Imaging Facility): Ranges from specialized services run privately by physicians, radiologists, dentists, chiropractors or mammography programs to broad-based imaging centres offering a wide range of tests.

Basic information on the National Survey of Selected Medical Imaging Equipment is provided below

What’s Included: CIHI’s surveys from 2003 to 2007 and 2009 to 2012 (only the 2012 survey data is shown in Quick Stats) tracked data on medical imaging equipment that was installed and operational in Canadian hospitals and free-standing imaging facilities (sometimes also called non-hospital, community-based and/or private facilities) as of January 1 of each year. The 2012 survey collected information for CT scanners, MRI scanners, nuclear medicine cameras (gamma and SPECT), PET scanners, PET/CT scanners and SPECT/CT scanners, as well as for equipment used to perform angiograms and cardiac catheterization, bone densitometers and lithotripters (therapeutic devices). Note that information for the last two devices is not reported in any Medical Imaging in Canada release because either there is incomplete coverage or it is not applicable.

History: Over a period of many years, the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH), formerly the Canadian Coordinating Office for Health Technology Assessment (CCOHTA), conducted a survey on the number, distribution and key characteristics of selected imaging technologies in Canadian hospitals. Following discussions with CCOHTA, CIHI undertook a similar survey in 2003 and conducted the survey annually thereafter, except in 2008.

The imaging equipment covered by the 2003, 2004 and 2005 surveys (angiography units, cardiac catheterization units, CT scanners, MRI scanners, nuclear medicine cameras and PET scanners) was the same as that surveyed by CCOHTA in 2001. From 2006, two types of fusion technology were included as well: PET/CT scanners, which have been installed in Canada since 2002 and combine functional and anatomical imaging from PET and CT in the same display; and SPECT/CT scanners, which were introduced in Canada in 2005. Bone densitometers were included in the surveys starting in 2006 as well. Per CIHI’s announcement to its stakeholders this summer, the 2012 National Survey of Selected Medical Imaging Equipment will be the last one carried out by CIHI. 

Survey Process: CIHI retained the services of ProMed Associates Ltd., a medical imaging consulting firm, to coordinate data collection. ProMed contacted health regions, hospitals and relevant free-standing imaging facilities across Canada. Various organizations of health care professionals and provincial/territorial ministries of health were asked to promote participation in the survey. Respondents completed the online survey using a bilingual website. To maximize response rates, ProMed completed several rounds of follow-up with respondents.

Validating the Results: To ensure that the coverage was as complete as possible, responses were cross-checked against results from previous surveys, published lists of equipment (such as research reports and health directories) and data reported by hospitals and health regions to CIHI’s Canadian MIS Database (CMDB). Provincial/territorial ministries of health were also asked to validate overall equipment counts. In addition, ProMed reviewed information submitted and contacted participants for follow-up where required.

Technical Notes:

  • Age of equipment is calculated from the year the equipment was installed and in operation to January 1 of the current survey year.
  • Although the focus is on scanners used for clinical purposes, some scanners are also used either exclusively or partly for research.