If you own or use a GE CT scanner you already know tubes aren't cheap, and they don't last forever. This reality leads to very logical questions like, "How long will my tube last?" and "How can I make my tube last longer?" We've already discussed the answer to the first question for a number of GE tube types in other blogs (see links at the bottom). Here, we want to focus on that second question. Keep reading to find out what you can do to help the tube in your GE CT scanner live its best, and longest, life.
What You Can Do to Extend GE CT Tube Life
Tube Warm Ups
A premature exposure to high power levels creates a sudden influx of heat in a tube. This sudden heat can damage a tube or accelerate wear and tear on it. Before beginning your CT's daily schedule of patient scans or running a QA test on your system, it's important to perform the manufacturer-recommended warm up procedure. This will gradually increase the temperature in the tube and prevent damage from temperature shock. If your CT isn't in regular use, it's still recommended you warm it up and run a QA test at least once a week.
It's worth noting that too many warm ups can be as bad as too few. Generally speaking, a warm up is only necessary at the start of a scanning day. After warm up, a tube will stay warm for about 30-60 minutes.
Tube life can also be preserved by following proper shutdown procedures. Do not shut down power to your gantry until the tube has had time to cool down.
If you have a newer GE tube with liquid bearings, consult manufacturer recommendations for shutdown and startup. These are designed to prepare your tube for use, and to ease it back into inactivity safely.
Make sure that your system is getting preventative maintenance (PM) at least twice a year. When your system is kept in good operating condition, it powers your tube and manages its temperature according to the original specifications. A scanner that is maintained haphazardly puts the tube at a higher risk for damage.
Please note: on the first PM after a tube is installed, the engineer should check the tube's heat exchanger loop for air bubbles and a proper pump flow rate.
"Listen" to Your System
In many cases, if you're about to do something that will affect your tube, the operator's workstation will warn you and recommend what you should do before proceeding. For example, if your system detects that the tube is cold, a message will come up recommending a warm up. Your tube life will benefit if you follow on-screen recommendations as often as possible.
There is no guaranteed way to give your GE CT tube a longer life, but the best practices mentioned above will all help you avoid shortening it. Proper maintenance and use can go a long way toward reducing your parts and service costs and the downtime that results from a sudden tube failure.
If your tube is exhibiting signs of failure right now, our Parts Team can help you find a replacement. You can browse our inventory of GE CT parts online, or call our Parts Hotline directly at 877-621-2887Check out typical lifespans for popular GE CT tubes here: