One of the biggest challenges of mammography screening is the image quality it demands
from its machines. Any number of factors can degrade image quality and accelerate breakdowns in mammo units — but according to our experts, many of those factors can be addressed by end users with a little know-how.
With that in mind, we collected six easy, low-cost preventative tips that help you to get the most from your machines. They were provided courtesy of Alison Fortin, director of purchasing at Global Inventory Management; Todd King, president of KING Equipment Services, Inc; James McGinty, president of DigitecMedical; and Michael Petelin, technical training instructor at RSTI.
- Must dust: Don’t allow dust to gather in the tube head. Not only does it create image artifacts, it can lead to premature failure of components inside the tube head.
- Put it on ice: Detectors are the most expensive part of the machine, so be vigilant about following OEM instructions for keeping them in top shape. For example, GE mammography systems are water cooled, so make sure the cooling system gets flushed on a regular basis.
- At your own risk: When buying a digital mammo unit, some customers try to skimp on service contracts to offset the high expense of the detector. But be aware that if you decide to forego a service contract, a failed detector could set you back $100,000.
- Track trends: Be diligent with monitoring quality control parameters. A change to those numbers may indicate a problem and a record of the parameters can help service providers to identify that problem.
- Last look: It’s always best to have the person purchasing the unit test and inspect the equipment before removal. It will be harder to establish the top value of the equipment if it’s de-installed prior to having it inspected.
- Line ‘em up: Finally, experts say that broken compression paddles — a costly fix — can be easily avoided by performing weekly tests on the phantoms to make sure they’re not under too much strain — over-compressed phantoms are the most common cause of broken paddles.