We emphasize preventive maintenance (PM) a lot here at Block Imaging. We type about it in emails. We talk about it on the phone. We blog about it online. This emphasis is because we firmly believe that regular preventive maintenance for X-ray machines, and all other kinds of medical imaging equipment, is essential to safety, image quality, and minimizing downtime. We typically recommend two preventative maintenance visits per year for a fixed or overhead room.
We would love to be the company you choose to provide preventive maintenance for your X-ray system, but even if we're not, we're going to share with you what an effective PM looks like, in three stages.
Three Stages of an X-Ray Preventive Maintenance Visit
A PM visit starts with verification of functions: movement, X-ray production, image acquisition. This gives the field service engineer (FSE) a baseline reference for the current level of system performance. This is done with an image quality check using a known reference object (phantom). After completing all the other PM steps, a second quality check is done to ensure the same, or better, image quality is obtained. Tube and detector alignment are verified and adjusted and optimized as needed.
A little bit of housekeeping goes a long way for an X-ray system. Without regular cleaning inside the system dust and debris can affect movement, interfere with cooling, and show up in your images.
To prevent these symptoms, the X-ray tube enclosure is wiped clean of debris and O-rings are replaced. High voltage cables are inspected, cleaned, and re-greased. Dust and lint are blown out of electronic components. Rails and gears involved in moving the tube and collimator and the table top are also wiped clean and lubricated as needed.
Mechanical and Electrical Testing
Electrical and mechanical tests are routine during X-ray PMs. These include safety interlock, warning lamp, and sensor tests. The FSE inspects and verifies secure mounting hardware and wire terminations. For systems with motion manipulation, the FSE verifies motion control operation, driving each axis to its home position, and verifies all crash limits are set accordingly. Limit sensors, motors, and encoders are adjusted as needed.
Full tests are also conducted on the workstation functions. Any required actions revealed by the testing are seen to during the PM. These may include updating DR applications, installing software patches, and backing up files.
Bonus Stage: Inspection for Future Issues
Inspecting for future issues is kind of a stage within each stage. FSEs are doing this at all times as they move through their checklist of maintenance tasks. Their training tells them where to look for potential issues and deteriorating parts that might fail before the next scheduled maintenance rolls around. Any items needing attention will be recorded on a service report and given to the staff at the service site for their records. The report may suggest replacement parts to keep on-hand and preventive measures users can take to keep the system in good working order between visits. If a problem is imminent, the FSE will recommend more immediate action. Whatever the results, a trained eye for identifying future problems is invaluable to reducing downtime.
In summary, a PM visit should include verification of functions (movement, X-ray production, image acquisition), interior cleaning, electrical and mechanical tests, and inspection for future issues. Regular preventive maintenance prevents downtime and saves money. Keeping up on your X-ray scanners maintenance is the most important action you can take to affect the functional quality and working life of your X-ray equipment- especially if the maintenance is thorough enough to include all of the stages mentioned above.
If you'd like to learn more about scheduling preventive maintenance for your X-ray system, Block Imaging's Service Team can help with PM program subscriptions or time and materials options. You can click the button below to tell us about your equipment and schedule.
Tony Baggett is an X-Ray Product Manager at Block Imaging. Tony assists imaging centers, hospitals, and orthopedic centers in their purchases of x-ray equipment. When he’s not serving customers, Tony can be found hunting, fishing, and camping with his wife, son, and daughter.