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X-ray Machine Maintenance: the Complete Guide

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Does the thought of an X-ray machine breakdown still bother you? One way you might be able to avoid this is to do something called preventive X-ray machine maintenance. 

This simple but necessary activity is critical to ensure that your x-ray machine keeps on going for the long haul.

X-ray machine maintenance will also help you avoid unnecessary expenses from fixing a broken X-ray machine and the loss in profit due to downtimes. 

But why is it important, and how do you carry out this maintenance? You’ll find the answer in this piece. So, if you’re ready, let’s get things underway.



Why is X-Ray Machine Maintenance Important?

Let’s face it, almost everybody you’ll meet knows a thing or two about machine maintenance and even talks about it nearly all the time. Unfortunately, not everybody does the needful most people don’t know its importance. 

So, here are the essential reasons why the maintenance of your X-ray machine is important.


  • Safety



Every organization must take the safety of its personnel seriously, as this ensures that the organization continues to operate successfully. 

The lack of regular maintenance can increase the risk of radiation leakages in the X-ray machine, especially for radiation-protective machine accessories. 

This radiation leakage can cause an over-exposure of personnel to radiation and can cause harm to their health.


  • Operation

X-ray machine Operation

There are two ways to look at the operation point of view: the operation of the business and the operation of the machinery.

Now here’s the thing: the well-being of one affects the other, which means that if the machine does not operate well due to lack of maintenance, the business will not also operate well. 

Timely and adequate maintenance of the X-ray machine will ensure that it continues to function optimally while also ensuring that the business continues to do well. 


  • Product Quality Control

Product quality control

An accurate analysis of the defective nature of a product or sample is necessary to produce a quality product.

Proper preventive maintenance of your X-ray machines ensures you get a quality image that helps you with accurate analysis and assessment of your product quality. 

There is a high possibility of inadequate quality assessment of a product when a lack of maintenance leads to the malfunction of your X-ray machine.


10 Tips for X-ray Equipment Care and Maintenance

After establishing the importance of timely and regular maintenance, you’ll still have to carry out this necessary maintenance. Now, you might wonder what that preventive maintenance entails. So, let’s show you how, with the following X-ray machine maintenance tips. 


➀ Carry out Regular Preventive Maintenance 

Why is preventive maintenance better? That’s because it’s cheaper and consumes less time than corrective maintenance. 

Following the preventive maintenance guidelines in the manufacturer’s manual helps keep your X-ray machine working properly. 

It also helps you avoid unnecessary breakdowns that lead to downtimes and profit losses since it can pick up worn-out components before they cause any damage. 

One way to achieve this is to enter a partnership with the manufacturer, who provides technical manpower for regular scheduled preventive maintenance. 

This partnership gives you the advantage of technical experts working on your machine as opposed to untrained personnel that might cause even more damage to your X-ray machine. 


➁ Conduct General Function Check

Sometimes, you need to ensure that the parts of your X-ray machine are in top-notch form, especially the external parts that are easily accessible. 

Verifying the functional state of the machine parts, including the platform, radiation receptors, and the console, gives you an idea if your machine is working optimally. 

It also lets you know if you should contact your manufacturer for technical support before things get out of control.

Functional check is a good maintenance practice and can serve as part of your preventive maintenance routine procedures.

Other parts you can check for functional consistency include detector alignment with tubes for good quality images. 


➂ Pay Attention to Electrical Safety 

Safety is part of the fundamental requirements for any organization with a piece of X-ray equipment which makes electrical safety very important. 

It is always best maintenance practice to satisfy electrical safety requirements recommended by the manufacturer of the X-ray machine. 

These electrical safety requirements include safe working current or voltage for the machine, electrical safety accessories like the circuit breakers, and earthing requirements.

It is also vital for the operator to adhere to these safety requirements to avoid electrocution cases and short-circuiting that can damage electrical components of the X-ray machine. 


➃ Do Regular Tube Cleaning

The X-ray tube is a critical part of the X-ray machine that can cause a substantial delay if it breaks down.

Carrying out a thorough cleaning of both the exterior and the interior parts of the X-ray tube can give you substantial gains in a perfect working X-ray machine. 

Knowing the type of X-ray tube installed with your X-ray machine can help you carry out a proper cleaning job.

There are only two types of X-ray tubes which are open and sealed X-ray tubes, and they have different cleaning procedures.

You can clean both the external parts and the internal components of an open X-ray tube. However, you cannot clean the internal components in a sealed tube but can only replace the tube when it goes bad. 


➄ Check Every X-ray Machine Component

All components of an X-ray machine are essential to the smooth operation of the machine and the successful production of quality products. 

It is ideal that you design a routine maintenance program for checking each component with a checklist that itemizes the criteria for acceptable functional levels. 

Some essential parts you should never overlook include tubes, generators, detectors, plugs, and cables, as well as the console.

The tubes generate the X-ray energy, and the generators determine the level of intensity of the radiation. 

The detectors must be in good shape to get a quality image, while the cables and plugs must be in good condition to connect to the power source. 

Finally, the console must function well to regulate the voltage-current ratio and control other parameters for accurate analysis and results. 


➅ Provide the Optimum Environment for Your X-ray Machine

Make no mistakes about the importance of the operating environment for your X-ray machine. It is as important as the machine itself as it can make or mar your X-ray machine. 

Think of it this way, landing an airplane without a runway leads to significant damage to the airplane. The runway, in this analogy, is a favorable environment. 

The electrical requirements, including the consistency and integrity of the power source, can create an enabling environment for operating your X-ray machine if you can find a great one.

You can get electrical accessories like circuit breakers and power backups for fluctuating and irregular power sources. 

Also, such environmental elements as high humidity, extreme temperatures, and water can cause appreciable damage to the X-ray machine and can reduce the lifespan of the machine.


➆ Operate the Equipment in Accordance with the Technical Specifications

If you must get the best from your X-ray machine, then following standard technical specifications is often one of the steps that you must follow.

These technical specifications are requirements usually laid out by manufacturers in standard operating manuals for the X-ray machine. 

These specifications include things like voltage requirements, maximum operating temperature, exposure time, and optimum speed.

Other specifications include safety requirements like maximum radiation exposures for X-ray machine operators and other supporting personnel. 

Following these specifications doesn’t only ensure that your X-ray machine is in good shape for a long time but also ensures that people are safe and quality assessments are accurate. 


➇ Focus on the Exterior Cleaning of the Equipment

The exterior part of the X-ray machine consists of components that are easy to access and therefore easy to clean and maintain.

Carry out regular cleaning of these exterior parts as they are susceptible to the effects of dust and dirt that can find their way into the internal components. 

Dirt in internal components will be difficult to reach and can build up over time to clog internal moving parts, making it difficult for them to perform at their optimum levels. 

It is therefore advisable to keep the dirt out by cleaning these external components frequently. 


➈ Operate the X-ray Machine Properly

The improper use of the X-ray machine constitutes abuse and can lead to damage or accelerated wear and tear of its part.

Some examples of improper use of the machine can include testing samples with properties not recommended by the manufacturer for the machine.

Others include testing samples with sizes, shapes, and weights above the manufacturer’s recommendations as outlined in the user manual.

To avoid this issue, training for the machine operators and supporting personnel should take place prior to launching the equipment for operation.

Also, refresher programs to acquaint operators and other technical staff with the latest operational improvements should occur regularly in collaboration with the manufacturer. 


➉ Run Routine Mechanical Testing 

Mechanical testing involves ascertaining that the moving parts, including platforms, light curtains, and safety locks, are working as they should. 

Motion manipulators also should undergo this routine mechanical testing along with motion controllers ensuring that they conform to a standard range of movements and positioning.

Also, screws and nuts for moving parts will need proper examination during the mechanical testing to ensure they are tight and firm.


X-ray Machine Maintenance: FAQs

With all the above explanations, inquirers still raise a few questions out of curiosity to know more about X-ray machine maintenance. Here are some of those frequently asked questions and their answers.


⁃ How long does an X-ray machine last?  

The level of care and maintenance that you give to your X-ray machine will determine how long it will last in serving your needs.

Another factor that can influence the lifespan of your X-ray machine is the frequency of usage, as X-ray machines with more usage often experience more wear and tear of component parts. 

The last influencing factor concerns if you optimize your X-ray machine as using its maximum capacity can quickly reduce its life expectancy. It is good practice not to use more than 75% of your X-ray machine. 

In all, your X-ray machine can last for a long time of up to 20 years or more if you maintain it well, optimize it for 75% of its capacity, and use it less frequently.


⁃ How do you prolong your X-ray tube’s lifespan?

Regularly Cleaning your X-ray tube is one way to prolong its lifespan. However, doing only this won’t guarantee its long life. 

Other observations include switching off your X-ray machine when not in use as not doing so engages the X-ray tube.

Also, you need to ensure that the X-ray tube does not use more than 75% of its maximum intensity, as this can quickly wear it down.


➤ Related Article: 15 Tips To Extend Your X-Ray Tube Life

➤ Related Article:​​ Common Causes Of X-Ray Tube Failure


⁃ How do you clean an X-ray machine?

Cleaning an X-ray machine involves categorizing the parts into its external and internal parts. You can carry out general cleaning on external parts, including the console, detector screen, and the platforms.

However, the internal parts including the voltage generator, X-ray tube, and the O-rings will require more detailed cleaning.


⁃ Do you have a detailed preventive maintenance checklist for x-ray machines?

There is a detailed checklist for preventive X-ray machine maintenance. This checklist often contains the main X-ray machine units and the individual components required for a complete assessment. Here are these categories with their respective components as follows. 

  • General System – Generator, Table and bucky, Tube suspension, Tube and collimator, AEC controls, Upright Bucky, Control Panel, and Tomography Component. 
  • Fluoroscopy – Generator and Tube
  • Fluoroscopy Tower – Image intensifier and Camera.
  • Mammography unit – Generator, Compression Device, Control Panel, Grid and Bucky, Tube and Collimator. 


➤ Related Article: X-ray Machine Installation: the Complete Guide 

➤ Related Article: The 12 Most Common X-ray Machine Problems and Troubleshooting



So, what do all these mean? In a nutshell, this means that your X-ray machine might not last for very long if you fail to carry out the necessary X-ray machine maintenance. 

It also means that you have the necessary information required to successfully carry out the maintenance that will prevent your machine from needless breakdowns.

In all, you need to understand the importance of carrying out X-ray machine maintenance as it ensures safety, accurate quality control, and the smooth operation of both the machine and quality production. 

So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and give it a go.

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