People refer to interventional equipment inspections frequently in our industry but seldom identify what a thorough inspection looks like. To pull back the curtain on the process, we’ve compiled the major steps our engineering team takes when they conduct an inspection of a cath lab. There are quite a number of other steps in our 4-5 hour process as well but, in the essence of time, we’ll be focusing on the larger elements.
Access the Error Logs
From here, we can see past or current recurring issues. Noting recurring issues is significant in illuminating potentially failing components or problem areas in a system’s mechanics or electronics.
Check out the Detector
The digital detector is the most expensive and among the most sensitive components of a cath lab system. To evaluate its condition, we run what’s called a “dark image” test. This is a pre-calibration step that is focused on the pixels of the detector. Every digital detector has bad pixels. Regardless of the brand, model, or modality, they come from the manufacturer that way. However, if the detector passes the dark image test, we know the bad pixels will be nullified during calibration.
Move Everything, Everywhere
While this may seem like common sense, it’s a key difference between a thorough inspection and a superficial one. We put the machine through all of the mechanical paces, taking each articulated piece through its entire range of motion: tables, monitor booms, footswitches, C-arms, positioners, etc. It's important to move beyond the most commonly used positions to confirm a full range of motion.
We use the manufacturer’s QA phantom to test image quality and take static shots as well as CINE runs that simulate a patient case. After we have some images to test image quality in the broader sense, we use a line pair resolution phantom to test detailed image quality and resolution.
Whether you do it personally or hire someone to handle it on your behalf, a thorough inspection is vital to confirming a system’s overall quality of performance. If you know other tips or tricks for inspecting interventional suites, we’d love to hear them.
Written by Chris Sharrock
Chris Sharrock is the Fluoroscopy Product Manager at Block Imaging. Sometimes referred to as the “The C-Arm Guy”, Chris has a passion for music, fitness and genuinely enjoys helping others make decisions about c-arms and fluoroscopy equipment. You can download Chris’ very popular “C-Arm Buyer’s Guide” or connect with him here.
Co-authored by Jordan Batterbee