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Medical Lab Equipment List To Open Your New Lab

Today’s medical labs routinely perform several complex tests. Because of this, medical laboratory technicians require various types of equipment to test a wide variety of hematological, pathological, oncological, microscopic, and immunologic tests. The accuracy of diagnostic results heavily depends on the kind of equipment used to handle the analysis. As such, using standard medical laboratory equipment ensures consistent performance.

There are, of course, a number of smaller lab supplies and other medical supplies any lab will need such as disinfectants, hot plates, test tubes, stirrers, pipettes, cuvettes, dispensers, and beakers, but this post will focus on the more expensive and elaborate laboratory supplies and equipment you’ll need to function as a quality laboratory.

Medical Lab Equipment and Instruments List

Clinical Chemistry Analyzer

What it Does

A clinical chemistry analyzer is a type of medical analysis equipment that uses either standard or integrated chemistry analysis. Common methods of chemical analysis include ion-selective measurement or photometry. The embedded systems combine immunoassay capabilities and photometric testing.

How to Use it in a Medical Lab

Clinical chemistry analyzers are found in many different types of labs, ranging from small clinics to high-throughput clinical labs. They are used to perform an array of tests on serum, plasma, blood, and urine, as well as therapeutic drug monitoring assays. They provide information on concentrations of analytes as well as certain hematology values such as hemoglobin levels. The capabilities of a chemistry analyzer help to diagnose and treat a number of diseases and conditions. Urinalysis, for instance, can indicate the presence of a urinary tract infection.

Popular Brands/Manufacturers

Beckman Coulter, Siemens Healthineers, Abbott Laboratories, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Randox Laboratories, Roche, ELITech Group.

Blood Bank Analyzer

What it Does

Blood bank analyzers conduct either manual or automated analysis, antibody identification, cross-matching, and tube testing. Different types of blood bank analyzers are available based on methods and technology including column agglutination technique (CAT), solid-phase red cell adherence assay (SPRCA), and erythrocyte-magnetized technique (EMT). They perform a number of tests on the blood cells for donor screening, group screening, cross-matching, and antibody identification. 

How to Use it in a Medical Lab

The machines are used to analyze blood samples to determine blood type, cross-match, or identify antibodies. This can help treat and diagnose a number of conditions. While automated machines are helpful, proper training is necessary. They can provide a point-of-care diagnostic. Blood collection and analysis can detect a wide range of conditions including infection, cancers, anemia, diabetes, and more.

Popular Brands/Manufacturers

Beckman Coulter, Abbott Laboratories, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Immucor, Inc., Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Siemens Healthineers.

Cryostat

What it Does

A cryostat maintains cryogenic temperatures for samples, slides, and devices stored within it by using liquid cryogens such as nitrogen and helium, however, there are cryogen-free models available that rely on electricity. It is useful for preparing tissue samples for research. It includes a microtome to slice the samples extremely thin while keeping an exact temperature.

How to Use it in a Medical Lab

After preparing the samples, they are viewed under a microscope. The cryostat can provide a quick diagnosis of the condition of the tissue sections, study margins of cancer, and section samples for enzyme histochemical analysis. It is often used to help diagnose and treat automimmune and neuromuscular diseases.

Popular Brands/Manufacturers

Amos, Advanced Research Systems, Inc., Thermo Fisher Scientific, Cryomech, Inc., Bright Instruments Ltd., and Atico Medical Private Limited.

Mass Spectrometer

What it Does

A mass spectrometer is used to determine the mass-to-charge ratio of molecules and atoms within a sample. By sorting and weighing ionized molecular fragments, a mass spectrometer can identify the molecular compound based on its weight. The spectrometer relies on an ion source, a detector system, and an analyzer to conduct a thorough analysis.

How to Use it in a Medical Lab

Mass spectrometry is often used to analyze metabolites and proteins, and is utilized as a diagnostic tool in clinical treatment. It is used to diagnose metabolism deficiencies, and is regularly employed for drug testing and discovery, as well as toxicology testing. Mass spec is also useful in determining whether enzymes or biomarkers are present in a person’s blood, plasma, or tissue.

Popular Brands/Manufacturers

Thermo Fisher Scientific, SCIEX, Agilent TechnologiesWaters, PerkinElmer.

Chromatography

What it Does

Chromatography refers to a family of techniques used to separate and purify the components of a mixture for later use. Chromatography may be preparative or analytical.

How to Use it in a Medical Lab

Chromatography is used in the lab to efficiently extract biological fluids (blood, urine, etc.) for rapid analysis. It can be used to detect catecholamines (adrenal gland hormones and neurotransmitters) that can help diagnose conditions such as high blood pressure, Parkinson’s disease, and muscular dystrophy. Chromatography can also be useful in monitoring diabetes and determining vitamin levels.

Popular Brands/Manufacturers

Waters, Bio-Rad Laboratories, Gilson, PerkinElmer.

MRI Machine

An MRI machine is more likely to be seen in a hospital-like setting than a clinical laboratory, but the images it generates help with clinical diagnostics.

What it Does

The machine scans the patient’s body, using strong magnetic fields and radio waves to interact with the body’s water content to generate 3D images of organs and tissue. 

How to Use it in a Medical Lab

It is used to help diagnose patients without making them go through invasive procedures. An MRI scan is an ideal option to scan non-bony areas of the body, such as ligaments, nerves, muscles, the brain, spinal cord, and tendons. They can also be used to avoid radiation associated with x-rays because they do not use radiation. 

Popular Brands/Manufacturers

Popular brands/manufacturers include Philips Healthcare, Siemens Healthineers, Shimadzu Corp., Toshiba Medical Systems Corp., Hitachi Medical Corp., GE Healthcare, Hologic

The brand and type influence how much the MRI machine costs.

CT Scanner

Like the MRI, a CT scanner is something more common in hospital settings, but resulting images assist with diagnosis.

What it Does

With a CT scanner, you’re using a series of multiple x-ray measurements from different angles alongside computer processing to create a cross-sectional image of certain areas of the patient. Using a CT scan, it is possible to see everything from bones and soft tissue to blood vessels without subjecting the patient to an invasive procedure. The resulting images are clearer than x-rays.

How to Use it in a Medical Lab

The CT scanner is a large device similar to an MRI machine. Patients must lie down on a table as the device scans the body. The main difference is that this machine uses radiation and generates the scanned area’s image onto a computer screen.

Popular Brands/Manufacturers

Popular brands/manufacturers of CT scanners include GE, Philips, Siemens, and Toshiba. Several factors impact the total cost of the machine.

C-Arm

Like the MRI and CT scanners, the C-Arm is something that’s typically only seen in the hospital environment.

What it Does

The C-Arm is a fluoroscope, an instrument with a fluorescent screen attached used to view x-rays without taking and developing the x-ray photographs. C-arms come equipped with an x-ray image intensifier. This intensifier converts X-rays into visible light at a higher intensity, making the images brighter. C-arms are used to generate high-resolution, real-time images of the inside of a patient during a medical procedure, and allow the physician to perform immediate corrections if necessary. 

How to Use it in a Medical Lab

More commonly used during surgical, orthopedic, and emergency situations, they can also be used to diagnose patients. The detector and generator are attached to a scanning arm, shaped like a C. The system features a computer system for viewing, manipulating, storing, and transferring images.

Popular Brands/Manufacturers

Popular brands of C-Arms include Ziehm, GE Healthcare, Philips, Shimadzu Corp., Siemens Healthineers, Fluoroscan, OrthoScan, and Genoray.

Bone Densitometer

What it Does

A bone densitometer measures the density of an object by measuring the degree to which light can or cannot pass through the object. An object’s optical density is measured by exposing it to light and then measuring how much light is absorbed. There are two types: transmission and reflection. Transmission measures the light that passes through while reflection measures the light that reflects off the object.

How to Use it in a Medical Lab

A bone densitometer is used to conduct a bone density scan, or DEXA scan, to detect osteoporosis. It uses small amounts of x-ray to measure bone density and produces images of the spine, hip, or the whole body. The spine and hip are imaged commonly because that’s where most osteoporotic fractures happen.

Popular Brands/Manufacturers

GE Healthcare, BeamMed, Altec Medico, Hologic, Diagnostic Medical Systems (DMS), OSTEOSYS, Medilink, Xingaoyi, Osteometer, Swissray.

How Much Does it Cost to Open a Medical Lab

Opening a medical lab can become quite expensive. Depending on your location, the type of lab, and the equipment you need, you could spend anywhere from $50K to a few million. Fortunately, there are ways you can raise funds and keep costs low. 

The majority of your costs will be the lab space and the equipment itself. A lot of this depends on the area you’re operating in and whether you purchase new or used equipment or are willing to lease equipment. 

Considerations for Purchasing Medical Equipment

Buying New Equipment

Acquiring new equipment from a manufacturer ensures you will have the best equipment available on the market, but it requires large up-front payments that are typically financially straining.  You’ll also be responsible for repair, maintenance, and service contracts, which all add to the total expense of buying outright.

Buying Used Equipment

Buying used equipment may help you save money, but still requires a hefty upfront investment to get everything you need. If you don’t vet the equipment well enough ahead of time, you could be dealing with machines that don’t function well for long, leaving you without the things you need, and without money to handle a replacement.

Leasing Equipment

Leasing equipment means you can get all that you need at a fraction of the cost compared to buying new, and in some cases, even buying used. Leases include the cost of repair and maintenance, so you don’t have to worry about the hassle of dealing with annual service contracts. When you opt to lease to cut down on your costs, you can choose to lease new or refurbished equipment.