FUJIFILM’s FDR Cross Brings Point-of-Care Imaging to Rural Montana

Marias Healthcare Services, Inc., is a community health center dedicated to providing and promoting quality health and wellness in northern Montana. Located in Shelby, on the east side of Glacier National Park and just 36 miles south of the Canadian border, Marias is in a remote area where it can be challenging for patients to access life-saving care.

That’s why in June 2023, the healthcare system installed the FDR Cross, a unique two-in-one mobile fluoroscopy and digital radiography system from FUJIFILM Healthcare Americas Corporation. This is the center’s first in-house X-ray system, used to deliver fast imaging and diagnoses at the point of care in a single visit.

“It was exciting to bring digital radiography in-house. With the FDR Cross, we reduced radiology costs for our patients hand over fist,” said Jamie Brownell, CEO of Marias Healthcare. “FDR Cross allows our providers to diagnose with more confidence, treat faster and refer patients to the specialty care they need.”



Two-in-One Technology

The FDR Cross is a hybrid C-arm and mobile X-ray unit in one. The dual-function C-arm offers portable fluoroscopic and radiographic imaging on a single platform, reducing the need for additional equipment for image-guided procedures.

Radiology technologist Lisa Hanson said FDR Cross allows her to deliver immediate care to a wide range of patients. “With the FDR Cross, we are very efficient and fast. We can do imaging at the point of care, and that allows the doctors to immediately make a care plan. This is a little machine that is mighty,” she said.

The device features an innovative pivoting tube head and removable detector design, enabling greater freedom of imaging and efficiency compared to conventional separate C-arm and mobile X-ray machine approach. 

“I have everything I need because the FDR Cross does everything. In minutes, I can switch from digital radiography to fluoroscopy, and I love it,” Hanson said.


Clinicians across the health system in nearly every specialty appreciate the ability to get fast digital radiography and fluoroscopy images. “Providers absolutely love it because it has the ability to do fluoro, which gives our clinicians confidence that the correct care is being delivered safely,” Brownell said.

The cord-free, battery-powered FDR Cross operates wirelessly for up to eight hours. Its ergonomic design and light weight (150 pounds less than compact C-arms) promote ease of use and portability. It enables technologists to offset the X-ray tube from the traditional fixed detector area to accommodate wireless X-ray imaging similar to a standard portable X-ray system. The system even features an antibacterial coating to help aid in infection control.

“It's a smaller unit without the traditional big head and camera over patients, so it's not as intimidating, and it allows our technician to perform at our highest level because it's not clunky and big,” Brownell said.

Hanson said the unit’s easy maneuverability is particularly useful for podiatry scans. “It’s lightweight, so I can handle it well, and it goes everywhere. I just flip it around to get laterals on feet. It's an amazing machine,” she said.

But the FDR Cross doesn’t sacrifice image quality for usability. “If we have a patient that is in need, I can shoot a portable chest with beautiful pictures. And we have better X-rays than I've ever seen using this type of equipment,” said Hanson.



A promising partnership

When evaluating X-ray systems, Brownell consulted a colleague who recommended Fujifilm for the quality of the company’s products and service. “What stood out is that Fujifilm uses top-of-the line, best products for all the pieces inside the unit,” she explained.

The service agreement and team response were other deciding factors in the purchase. “Fujifilm has a very solid, basic service agreement that told me they believed in their unit and don’t expect it to break down,” said Brownell.

She said Fujifilm recognized the value of their partnership from the first call through installation and beyond. “They treated me as if I am the top priority, and that service is critical because if my machine goes down, it means my patients are compromised. The faster I can get it fixed, the better I can take care of my community,” she said.

Despite Marias Healthcare’s remote location, Fujifilm’s service technicians can reach them in approximately four hours. That means most issues are solved within a day, which Brownell called “phenomenal.”

Fujifilm provided comprehensive training for the Marias Healthcare team. “They were very good about teaching us about all the pieces and how everything worked together. They did a ton of education with us. It was very easy, clean and simple, which made my job a lot easier,” she said.

As a result of their experience, Marias Healthcare is now adding Fujifilm equipment to their endoscopy program. “Fujifilm has been phenomenal to work with on developing our endoscopic program. The fact that they have the same service across different departments means that my service never dipped, and that gives me great confidence,” Brownell said.



Life-changing Patient Care

In October 2023, a 68-year-old man was injured when a heavy metal gate trapped his right thigh as he was herding cattle at a local ranch. When he arrived at Marias Healthcare hours later, clinicians immediately imaged him with the FDR Cross. Images revealed compartment syndrome, where an increase in pressure inside a muscle restricts blood flow and can lead to loss of a limb.

“They did the imaging real quick and within a matter of 10 minutes after seeing the images, I was routed to a larger facility in Great Falls 90 miles away,” said the patient. “Interestingly enough, we had to drive because both an ambulance and Mercy Flight emergency medical transport were unavailable at the time. I was concerned, but not worried, as I knew I was in good care through all of this.” Upon arrival, he underwent emergency surgery and is now well on his way to making a full recovery.

“Time was critical for him. The ability to diagnose and get the proper treatment lined up so quickly was all thanks to the imaging capability of the FDR Cross,” Brownell said.

The patient’s wife, who coincidentally works at Marias Healthcare, credited the care at Marias to saving her husband’s leg. “It was definitely life-changing because if we'd wasted time, he would've lost more muscle and possibly his leg,” she said. “It makes me proud that I work for an organization that we can call family and offers wonderful care for our community.”

This is the level of care Marias Healthcare strives to give every patient, every day.

“We're rural health, so we know a lot of our patients. We cry with them and we rejoice with them when they're healed. That's what we're all about. And without the FDR Cross, we never would be able to do it that way,” Hanson said.

For more information about FUJIFILM Healthcare Americas Corp., visit https://healthcaresolutions-us.fujifilm.com/. For more information about the FDR Cross, visit https://healthcaresolutions-us.fujifilm.com/products/diagnostic-imaging/surgical-c-arm-systems/fdr-cross-c-arm-and-portable-x-ray.

To contact Marias Healthcare Radiology Department, call 406-434-3100.

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