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Tips for MR coil maintenance

by Lisa Chamoff, Contributing Reporter | September 14, 2022
From the September 2022 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

Coils may seem like small parts of an overall massive MR scanner, but keeping coils in good shape is critical to high-quality imaging. They are also prone to breakage and can be costly to repair.

Innovatus Imaging analyzed data after repairing more than 37,000 coils and found that over 37% had preventable damage and an additional 18% had issues that were related to preventable damage.

We asked a group of service professionals about the coil repair or service issues that they most commonly see and the top things that technologists can do to prevent these issues.

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Problem: Broken cables and broken or misaligned connectors

With cable issues, users typically begin to experience RF signal dropout, system ID failures and/or bias control voltage failures, said Nate Barczykowski, production manager at Innovatus Imaging. The results begin to present as image artifacts and ultimately QC failures. Cable replacements from the OEM, if available, are extremely costly, with some approaching $15,000.

Solution: Proper handling and storage

Unplug the coils after use and do not wrap the cables around the coil, said Vinod Palathinkara marketing director for service at Philips. Once the coils are unplugged, put the caps in the connectors.

Pay close attention to the insertion and removal of the coil connection to prevent damaging the pins, said Kurtis Waddell, growth marketing manager for DirectMed Parts & Service.

“Slowly insert and properly align the connection,” Waddell said.

Always pick up the coil by its body and not the cable, said Renee Jones, director of operations at Altima Diagnostic Imaging Solutions.

Store the coils properly. If you’re using a coil cart, each coil should have a place in the cart, Palathinkara said.

“Often the coils are placed on a table or flat surface and they can easily slide and fall when the table is bumped,” Palathinkara said. “The fall can break the coil body. If the pins or positioning guides take a hit, they can break and often require the replacement of the whole coil body. Flexible coils have thin wires and delicate circuitry within them. They can be wrapped around the body, but are not designed to be folded in half like a piece of cloth. People often place them on a surface and place heavy objects on top of the coil. These coils do not have any field-replaceable components and any damage can result in coil unavailability for use.”

Head coils and neurovascular arrays are usually multipiece designs and it’s important for technologists to separate the various coils’ sections using straight motions, Barczykowski said.

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