Scanners are fantastic diagnostic tools. With capable image sensors and high-resolution imagers, they can capture almost anything in 3D. But to get the most out of your imaging system, you need to know how to run it effectively. Running a CT scanner requires attention to detail. You need to ensure that your system is operating in ideal conditions for diagnostic scanning. You also need to understand how different settings affect the experience for your patients, staff and colleagues. Use these tips from a clinical technologist (CT tech) at the Cleveland Clinic to make your imaging system work harder so it can get more accurate data and produce better images with less downtime:
When you’re setting up a new system, make sure you account for the unexpected. You can’t always plan for accidents and emergencies, but you can make sure your imaging system is ready for them. For example, if your CT tech scanner has a water leak, you’ll need to shut down the water supply first. Similarly, if there’s an electrical issue and the imaging system blows a fuse, you’ll want to identify and fix the problem. Standard imaging systems can experience wear and tear over the course of a year. Depending on how many patients you scan each month, this wear and tear can quickly add up. To prevent downtime, make sure to inspect your system during off-times and replace broken equipment during maintenance.
Know your Equipment
Exotic equipment can be a fun addition to your imaging center. But it may not always be the best fit. While your department may want to purchase a super high-CT tech system to keep up with the latest technology, you may have a legal obligation to use older equipment. If you’re unsure about the legality of your imaging system, speak with your imaging department’s medical director or legal counsel. You may also want to consult with imaging experts such as the American College of Radiology (ACR) for guidance on current imaging technology.
Use the Right Settings for the Job
Your imaging system is designed to do one thing – take detailed images of your patients’ bodies. To do that job properly, you need to understand how the imaging system is set up and what settings will best get you the data you need. For example, if you’re looking for general anatomy, make sure to use the “allo-visual” mode. This setting combines x-ray and ultrasound waves to create a clear, three-dimensional view of the body. You’ll also want to use the appropriate attenuation settings for your patients. Some patients have thicker bones, for example, which affects how much radiation the imaging system will produce.
Train Staff on Best Practices
Imaging staff members often work side-by-side with physicians. But imaging is a skill, and training is key to success. If you’re starting a new imaging center, make sure to include training in your standard operating procedures (SOPs). This ensures that every imaging staff member knows that training needs to occur regularly. For example, CT tech nologists should conduct regular audits of their work stations. Audits check for equipment issues, such as malfunctioning switches or a loose rail. Audits also ensure that scanners are in proper working condition and that all necessary maintenance has been completed. If auditing your workflow doesn’t feel right, consider partnering with a trusted imaging partner to help you get started.
Ergonomic Scanning is Key
CT tech scanners are extremely loud machines. And that noise actually helps create a clear image. But it can also be distracting and bothersome for patients and staff. To minimize noise, your imaging system should be operating in the “no-go” position. This means your system is set to the lowest energy setting possible. Your system should also be set at the highest resolution, so you can capture the clearest data possible. You may also wish to use attenuation to reduce noise when necessary. To ensure patients have an optimal experience, try to scan patients in a quiet room or with a soft light source. If possible, try to scan patients during off-peak hours.
CT tech scanners can help your patients present with a wide range of health problems. But they also require specific care and attention to perform optimally. Make sure your imaging system is set up and operating optimally. Then, make sure to maintain it properly, including regular maintenance and replacements. In this way, you can keep it working efficiently and effectively.
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