Tips for Troubleshooting Nuclear Medicine Machines and Equipment

The goal of nuclear medicine and nuclear scanning system software is to create a reliable and accurate 3-D image of a patient and their disease. The equipment cannot meet this goal if the nuclear medicine machine is failing or not working to its best ability. Medical imaging machines are similar to laptops, cameras and other operating systems. That’s not to say you can just turn a nuclear bone scan machine off and on again, but there are a few troubleshooting actions that you can take to help identify the problem.

Common Problems with Nuclear Medicine Machines

Nuclear scans are made possible by using many working parts, machines, supplies and medical processes. Combined, there are sure to be problems that occur at times during testing.

There are four main errors:

  • Information system software discrepancies (data acquisition, playback failure, computer malfunction)
  • Poor image quality
  • Loss of System Power
  • Unreliable ECG tracing

Tips for Troubleshooting Your Nuclear Medicine Machine and Equipment

Before you begin troubleshooting, it is important that you make sure the quality control procedures of the machine are met. Be sure the equipment and machine are calibrated daily and kept in an air-conditioned room. Communicate with other technicians to keep track of and be updated on previous problems that have occurred. It’s a good idea to keep a log of any issues and maintenance with dates and technician info. Be aware of any malfunctions or abnormal readings during testing.

If you notice an issue like a computer malfunction or a reading indicating unable to record data, try doing these steps:

  1. Check for faulty connections. There may be a cable unplugged or not plugged in completely, which can cause the connection to waver.
  2. Make sure computer systems are not contaminated. Keep disks clean and smudge-free to avoid interference with magnetic fields where the data is transferred on.
  3. Misalignment of switches: Check to make sure all toggles and buttons are in the correct place.

If you are noticing poor image quality, here are a few steps to try to fix it:

  1. Check for contaminates if the image is distorted. Remove the collimator and the crystal housing to locate and remove the source of distortion.
  2. Check photopeak settings. Peak camera with multichannel analyzer, if available. If unavailable, use ratemeter controls to adjust photopeak.
  3. If you see weird patterns, correct the collimation on the detector. If you notice the collimator has been left upside for a long period of time, turn it side down, wait 30 minutes and start field flood.
  4. Search for dust and other foreign bodies on the imaging camera lens and clean with lens paper.
  5. Look for incorrect focus adjustments. Move the bellows control in and out to move distance between the camera lens and CRT face to achieve a focused image.

Here are some troubleshooting steps if your nuclear medicine system has a loss of power:

  1. The stop knob may have been depressed because of an emergency. Disengage the knob to restore power.
  2.  A circuit breaker could have turned off. Locate the breaker in the system and flip the switch back to “on.” If this happens, be sure to get the system serviced as it can be a reoccurring problem.
  3.  Replace blown fuses. It’s good practice to have some spare fuses on hand. Make sure new fuses have the proper amperage and if this occurs often, you’ll want to schedule a service appointment.

If the readings of a patient’s ECG don’t make sense, check for the following:

  1. Make sure the electrodes are adhered correctly to the patient’s skin and check them frequently. Due to oil and sweat, they may become loose and cause spikes in the readings.
  2. Electrodes should also be placed closer to the heart or mid-line of body and away from the left diaphragm, which may cause artificial readings.
  3. Check all cable connections.
  4. Use a control subject or yourself to see if there are erratic readings. If so, the device should be serviced.

Why Use a Nuclear Medicine Service Company?

It’s important to be proactive in maintaining quality control of nuclear medicine systems to prevent errors from occurring. If problems do occur, then technicians can attempt to troubleshoot the machines using some of these helpful tips. Despite troubleshooting, sometimes the problem with the system is internal, pieces are faulty or malfunctioning, and you’ll need to have maintenance work done by a nuclear medicine service company. At Medical Imaging Technologies, we have a team of experts who can provide service, order and replace parts, perform system upgrades, and more!

Contact us for more information on troubleshooting and servicing your nuclear medicine machines and equipment parts.