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An RF engineer replaces capacitors on
a head coil. (courtesy MRIcoilrepair.com)

Tips for extending the life of your coils

by Lisa Chamoff , Contributing Reporter
From the September 2018 issue of DOTmed HealthCare Business News magazine

In today’s value-based care environment, it is more important than ever to keep high-value equipment in good shape. And while a quenched magnet is a big MR emergency, broken coils can also set a radiology department back.

Here are several tips from coil manufacturers and independent service organizations to ensure your coils have a long, useful life.

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Store coils properly
In its coil care guide for customers, Nicola Jones, the education coordinator for MR field support and education for Philips Healthcare, advises clinicians to store coils on a designated caddy or on shelves, making sure that any cables are loosely looped and not bent, and are not hanging from the shelf. Flat coils should also not be bent.

Clinicians should also make sure each coil has a dedicated spot and that they are not stacked on top of each other, with proper labels so they can be found and put back easily and quickly.

LeRoy Blawat, president of Resonant Diagnostics, notes that a non-skid surface is also important, and that coils should be kept off the floor, where they can more easily get dirty and damaged.

Inspect before using
Jason Brownley, principal MRI coil technician at Innovatus Imaging, recommends inspecting the coil before each use, examining the housings, each cable, the connector and any accessory.

“If the coil appears damaged in any way, discontinue use and contact your service provider,” Brownley says. “Exterior physical damage may be an indicator, or the root cause, of an underlying intermittent or hard electronic failure.”

Transport coils properly
According to Jones of Philips, heavy coils and two-part coils, such as head coils, should always be lifted from the bottom. Coils should never be carried by the cable.

Brownley of Innovatus recommends transporting the coil by gripping it and supporting it from the sides and using a cart to transport coils between rooms. Never carry flex coils from the flexible portion.

“Flex coils should always be cradled from the bottom, gripped at the center housing or carried by the designated handle,” Brownley says.

Handling flex coils properly
Clinicians should move the flex coil in the correct direction, without flexing past the OEM-designed degree of flex, and not using thru-holes as handles, says Wes Solmos, account manager at MRIcoilrepair.com.

How to use coils with patients
Patients should never touch the contact parts of coils that separate, such as knee coils, and the technologist should connect the coil to the scanner table after positioning the patient, according to Jones. When scanning with a flex coil, Brownley advises not to adjust the position of a patient by using the coil.

Coils should be closed before they are connected to the system, and then disconnected before they are opened again, Jones notes.

Blawat also stresses that clinicians should never lower the table when coils are plugged in.
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