Bone densitometers can last for decades — if they’re properly maintained.
In addition to the requisite annual PM, our experts advise keeping an eye on certain parts of the equipment to know when to call in a pro. Jeffrey Rubinoff, vice president of Complete Medical Services; Ben Williams, field service engineer at DEXA Solutions; and Jerry McLaughlin, CEO of DataStream Medical Imaging Systems, Inc. contributed tips on how to get more life out of your machines.
- Watch for oil spills: X-ray tubes in bone densitometers are unpredictable. While they sometimes last for up to 15 years, they can also hold out for only four or five years before they start leaking oils. There’s no way to tell which way your X-ray tubes will go, so just so be on the lookout for oil leaks even if you’ve only had your equipment for a few years.
- Choose technicians wisely: This should go without saying, but make sure your service provider specializes in bone densitometers. Just because a technician knows about X-rays doesn’t mean he knows how to work on DEXA scanners.
- Beware of crossed cables: Bone densitometers have multiple cables that can be easily tangled or broken. There’s the scan arm that goes over a patient, the tube housing carriage and the detector that moves in unison transversally, from front to back — that’s a lot of moving parts, so make sure everything stays straight.
- Start off right: Other cable-related issues can arise when the equipment is installed by someone who is not a bone densitometer expert. Again, look for pros in the bone scan space.
- Keep up with software: One way to extend the life of a sturdy bone densitometer is to equip it with the latest software. If you’re buying used, some older systems may not have features like fracture risk assessment, an important tool.
- Seek virtual help: Computer issues are generally the source of most bone densitometer troubles. If you receive a computer error, some technicians can do remote diagnostics to narrow down what the issue might be. Then the technician can either direct you on how to fix it, correct the problem virtually or schedule to come in for an in-person check.