Computed radiography vs. digital radiography

Written by michelle leach
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Computed radiography vs. digital radiography
The benefits of digital X-rays over traditional systems are many, but not all digital systems are created equal. (x-ray image by Claudio Calcagno from

If you think computed radiography and digital radiography are the same thing, think again. Though both produce higher-quality images in less time than traditional, non-digital X-rays, each has different features that can provide advantages or disadvantages, depending on your organisation type.


Computed Radiography and Digital Radiography, CR and DR, are alike in that they both are in digital format. As such, the images produced may be manipulated and archived.

CR basics

To better understand the differences between the two, it helps to know how they work. Cassettes containing phosphor plates are exposed to X-ray radiation in Computed Radiography. This radiation sucks up the X-ray exposure, thereby creating a latent image. This type of image can be viewed when it is pulled out from the phosphor-containing plates by means of a laser scanner that "reads" and later translates it into an image that can be displayed on a screen and manipulated.

DR basics

Unlike CR, no phosphor-containing cassettes are used to generate and read an image in Digital Radiography. Instead, the DR system comes equipped with a detector that transforms X-ray radiation into an electrical charge, which is later sent to a unit that processes the image to be viewed and manipulated.

DR advantages

A DR system is quicker because it's more direct. CR is a nine-step process, while DR requires seven steps. The additional steps come from handling the cassettes. Because of this, it takes 60 to 90 seconds to process and view a CR image; with DR, the same thing can be done "in seconds." The time savings allows personnel to be diverted to other tasks, further enhancing productivity. DR produces higher-quality images, while subjecting patients to lower doses of radiation.

CR advantages

Unlike DR, a CR system can integrate into your existing radiology equipment. Because of the nature of DR, if you opt to go this route, you'll need to buy both the detector and the X-ray equipment to match. Bronson says a DR-equipped radiology room costs twice as much as a CR room -- at £195,000. In addition, if you're a small office that's tight on space, a DR system may not be practical as it requires more room than its CR counterpart.

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