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MRI Machine Maintenance Tips from the Pros

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Maintaining a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine is a great endeavour. However, it is certainly a lot easier than trying to repair one when broken. Preventive maintenance is essential for the smooth running of the MRI machine, it allows you to find the issue before the problem occurs.

Here are some of the key tips from the pros on how to maintain your MRI machine effectively:

Regular maintenance check-ips

A common mistake is to just let the MRI machine run without ever checking up on it. Checks do not have to occur every day but you should at least have quarterly checks that are conducted thoroughly and in-depth.

Here are some things that you should check regularly:

  • Magnet system helium vessel
  • TAS water connection
  • Gradient system fans
  • Magnet pressure
  • Check for ice by the magnet 

If you are unfamiliar with some of these terms, that is quite alright! They are all simple features to check. For example, if you are checking the TAS water connection, you are just checking it for any leaks. Similarly, if you need to check the magnet pressure, this involves reading the MRI magnet pressure gauge to see what level it is at. Typically it will read 1.3 psi(g). However, it depends on the machine and you can check this in your manual. 

Aside from doing regular maintenance checks, you should also do regular maintenance cleaning. For example, at some point, you will need to clean the primary and secondary filters. Dust can cause big problems for your MRI machine, as a build-up of dust in the air vents can cause the MRC to fail. 

Pay attention to your system’s manual 

Never throw away your system’s manual. In there you will find everything you need about caring for and repairing your MRI machine. The manual is especially useful as it is tailored for your specific machine, so you do not have to waste time reading through vague help books online. Certain issues are more likely to occur than others, for example, the MRI helium level is low, power outages and the heat exchanger temperature falters.

If you have your system manual to hand, then you take note of the solutions needed to fix said errors or to prevent them entirely. A key tip for keeping your manual safe is to keep it in the same place so that everyone knows to put it back there when done. Additionally, some manuals come in a PDF format that you can easily store on your devices. 

Use a reliable service team 

Having a reliable service team to hand is strongly advised, as if something goes wrong, you will want a backup service team who can help as soon as possible, no matter the hour. The best option is to go for a company that offers both service and parts, as buying parts for MRI machines can be chalenging if you don’t have the service/ trained technicians to implement them. Sometimes people are afraid to change parts here and there in an MRI machine, but the best course of action is to change any flattering parts quickly. Do not wait for the part to break before you decide to fix it. Preventative measures are the most effective way of ensuring that your machine doesn’t go down for hours on end, possibly even days. 

Be prepared

Unfortunately, MRI machines can be unpredictable, and so you need to be prepared for the worst at any given moment. Having technicians and repair service teams on hand that you trust and have a rapport with is crucial. The last thing you want is to be waiting for a repairman who then doesn’t show up. This will not happen if you build a relationship with the right service team, they will come to know you and your machines. 

Being prepared does not just mean having a service team to rely on, it also means that you should be well informed on how your machine works and the parts inside it. While it can be complex and confusing, investing a little bit of time into getting to know your machine will make sure you know the right signs for when it is not working so well.

The best thing you can do when it comes to maintaining your MRI machine is to clean it regularly and at the very least do quarterly check-ups on all the parts inside that make it work. 

Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. He has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.

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