MRI housekeeping tips
October 01, 2013
MRI scanners are powerful technologies, but something as seemingly simple as a dust bunny can clog them up and cost you down time. But that problem, like most issues MRIs run into, is easily remedied — or prevented — with just a little bit of TLC. Three professionals shared their best advice for keeping scanners running their best, whether you recently upgraded or it’s celebrating its 20th birthday.
PM the right way
“My number one tip is to make sure you get your preventive maintenance done by someone who’s on site,” says Randal Walker, vp of CT and MR at BC Technical/Genesis. “You don’t want someone who just logs in and checks everything remotely, you need someone who’s coming out and cleaning the system, getting the filters changed.” “It’s better to have a service contract than to call someone in,” says Rich Greb, parts director at Image Technology Consulting.. “You’re not at the top of the list if you have a problem if you’re hourly.”
Greb also recommends getting a service contract for MR peripherals like chillers. “It’s not terribly expensive in the scheme of themes,” he says.
All in the details
“The most common detrimental problem is not maintaining a helium level and allowing your helium to get too low,” says Larry Knight, operations partner at Altima Diagnostic Imaging Solutions. “Also be sure to monitor the chiller and water levels.” Those tasks are the responsibility of the MRI technician or radiology manager, Knight says.
“Always keep the MR clean,” says Bruce Smith, owner of Medical Systems Technologies. “We see failures just because air intakes were plugged, or because there were so many dust bunnies that the thing couldn’t cool itself anymore. The equipment room itself may be spotless, but all the dust gets in the machine.”
But whose job is it to keep dust bunnies out of MRs? “That varies. In a lot of cases, it’s not simple because you don’t want to be sticking your hands in high power electronics when they’re running. The biggest thing is keeping the filters on your air ducts clean — and make sure the filters are actually there,” says Smith.
A power problem can be a disaster for your scanner.
“One of the biggest things that eats high-power electronics, the gradient amplifiers, is the power line being imbalanced,” says Smith. “So either phase to phase gets way imbalanced from a power factor point of view, or they get this huge drop in voltage, like brown outs, and that causes the electronics to work harder and get hot and ultimately fail. To avoid that, try putting line conditioning on the system itself.”