Preventative maintenance (PM) is important for any MRI scanner. No service contract worth its salt comes without this vital component. But, before you assume that all PMs are created equal or that, because you got all your PMs this year, everything is hunky-dory, there are some questions you'll need to address.
Is your service engineer trained on your specific system manufacturer and model? Many MRI scanners have calibrations and tests specific to the unit. Make sure your engineer is more than just “familiar” with the MRI he is performing preventative services on.
Is coldhead service included in your quarterly MRI preventative maintenance? In most cases it is not. Although essential to most magnets' operation, the coldhead (sometimes referred to as the cryocooler) and compressor are their own animal. You want an engineer who has specific training on those pieces to be performing maintenance on them. This should be scheduled quarterly, just like your general MRI PM visit.
Is chiller service included in your quarterly MRI preventative maintenance? Sorry, but again the answer is, "Probably not". The chiller is a completely separate unit from the MRI. You will want to contract a local HVAC group to support your chiller. Keeping up periodic maintenance on your chiller is important. All the cold water that provides cooling to your cabinets and electronics comes from this piece. Without that cooling, you will likely start to receive error messages such as, “over-temp error” or “gantry overheat fault”. Along with this, it exposes you to a much higher risk of burning out boards and components.
If you get preventative maintenance, does that mean your MRI meets ACR standards? Not necessarily. Many systems, take the Picker Proview .23T Open MRI for example, are becoming the dinosaurs of the MRI world. ACR image quality standards are higher than ever, making it more and more difficult for older systems to pass the checks. ACR is not synonymous with OEM spec. Although many reimbursements now rely on your MRI passing ACR testing, the law does not require manufacturers to meet these standards.
The answers to these MRI maintenance questions will vary depending on your MRI service contract provider. It's important to make sure that you ask your vendor and yourself all of them to be certain that your MRI is getting the care it needs to keep you providing the care your patients need. If you'd like to learn more about MRI service and how Block Imaging does it, feel free to contact us with comments or questions.