If you have worked with an MRI scanner for any amount of time, you know how frustrating it can be when the MRI machine begins to experience downtime. Your patients are glaring at you and you’re trying to diagnose and correct the problem only to reschedule your patients and call in a repair technician. To help you avoid these scenarios, here is a list of some of the more common MRI scanner problems and how you can avoid your machine from experiencing them.
One of the more common complaints reported from MRI machines is a power outage or glitches that cause the system to shut down and restart. There are many different reasons that your MRI machine may experience power issues ranging from a power surge caused by a storm to out of date software. While there is little that can be done to prevent weather-induced power outages, ensuring you are using circuit breakers and you reset the breaker after a surge, if necessary, should correct any storm-caused power problems. As far as out-of-date software or other internal computer malfunctions, regular updates and maintenance can help prevent errors from beginning to occur in the first place.
As MRI scanner machines begin to age, common complaints refer to the quality of the images produced including artifacts in the image such as lines or graininess. Despite efforts to clean the machine, the images may be affected if there are wear and tear or damage to the coils. The good news is, routine maintenance plans include inspection and cleaning of these coils, which can help prevent any image issues from arising. If it is too late and your current MRI machine is experiencing less than ideal images, an experienced repair technician can easily correct the problem. Coils can be repaired, relatively inexpensively and quickly.
One of the more common complaints of an MRI machine is the excessive vibrations that can cause loud noises in the machine. An MRI machine creates a large static magnetic field that is used for imaging. To create this field, it takes a lot of energy and causes a lot of heat. To control the heat and allow the magnetic field to function, there are several cooling mechanisms. The MRI’s cold head is a continually moving part of the machine, it performs 24 hours a day, seven days a week and lasts for between 18 and 24 months if properly cared for. However, the cold head is not directly monitored by all MRI machines, so a poorly performing cold head will manifest in various symptoms such as intense vibrations, loud noises, and poor cooling (see next section). While you could keep track of the time since you replaced the cold head and listen for machine noises to indicate the need to repair or replace your cold head, routine preventative maintenance conducted by a trained technician is the best way to ensure proper cold head function.
An MRI machine requires precise temperature control to maintain a working environment. There are several components that help to maintain the temperature. If any of the cooling components are malfunctioning or underperforming, your MRI machine will lock-up and disallow scanning until the temperature is brought back down, which means downtime. When there is poor cooling action, it can be a variety of problems and each is just as significant as the other. Helium levels should be monitored and adjusted as needed. Most MRI machines will alert you of low helium levels, and if it does, it is time to get it filled immediately! Another culprit of poor cooling is the cold head, as discussed above. If your helium levels are fin and your cold head is operational, it could be the heat exchanger is not cooling the water that is pumping through the machine enough. If you have a problem with your heat exchanger, it should be evaluated by a trained technician.
MRI machines have revolutionized the world of medical imaging and offer a host of benefits that make them worth investing in. To prevent common problems, be sure to keep up with routine maintenance and inspections and if your machine does experience any symptoms, don’t ignore them, have them looked at! For all of your medical imaging machine needs, contact us at Bravo Imaging today!