by Lisa Chamoff
, Contributing Reporter | August 31, 2016
Hospitals and ambulatory surgery centers are filled with lifesaving machinery. Some of that equipment — particularly heavy imaging systems, such as X-ray tubes and MRs that are mounted on the ceiling in radiography rooms and hybrid ORs — requires more than operational expertise. Facilities must ensure that the equipment is installed properly.
“The structural support is extremely important,” says Edward Thieman, senior director of field support for Virtual Imaging Inc., a subsidiary of Canon U.S.A. Inc. “A lot of people make mistakes when it comes to not ensuring that their site is ready to accept the overhead tube crane.”
A facility needs a ceiling with enough structural support to hold a 1,000-pound piece of equipment without swaying. The overhead tube crane may be fully manual, or it could have a tracking function that always maintains the correct distance between the table and the detector. There are also fully automated systems that will drive the tube crane to exactly the right place for specific exams.
Overhead systems are popular in Western countries, says Stefan Mintert, senior portfolio manager for diagnostic X-Ray at Philips, which introduced its DigitalDiagnost ceiling mounted radiography system in 1999. “People want as little material on the floor as possible,” Mintert says. Most OEMs provide drawings that can be given to an architect that have all the considerations for the equipment taken into account. The contractor is given plans to complete the work. The metal support frame is provided by companies like Unistrut.
When the rails that the overhead tube crane will ride in get bolted in place, it’s important that they’re perfectly parallel to each other and level, Thieman notes. “We try our best to recommend that the customer insist that the contractor uses a company that is familiar with installing a strut to support the overhead tube cranes,” Thieman says. Imaging manufacturers work closely with the hospital and the facility manager, or with the dealer doing the installation, to make sure the building can handle the weight.
The room setup is also important, says Steve Romocki, worldwide product line manager for digital radiography solutions at Carestream, which has four ceiling-mounted radiography and fluoroscopy systems. “If you’ve got cabinets in the wrong way and you don’t have the proper stops in place, you can run this big tube into a cabinet,” Romocki says. “We have project managers that work with whoever is laying out the hospital room. In those cases, we’ll be working years ahead of time with the architects. We can put stops in the rail to restrict movement so the tube won’t crash into a beam or cabinet.”