The costs of going digital have decreased significantly over the past decade or so. What’s more, the savings thereafter are enduring. There are a number of digital x-ray solutions to explore. Why have many practices and clinics made the transition to a more digital x-ray solution?
- Increased diagnostic capabilities
- Increased productivity
- Increased workflow helping to optimize staffing levels
- Increase patient satisfaction and, potentially, recall
- Increasing quality of care provided
- Improved image quality – higher quality, higher resolution
- Lower radiation dose in support of ALARA
With today’s digital flat panel detectors (FPD), the need to digitize images in a Computed Radiography (CR) reader is erased. With DR technology, the image processing steps are removed so workflow efficiency is increased significantly. Inside the flat panel detector, a scintillator inside the panel immediately converts the x-rays into visible light, which is then converted into a digital signal to be displayed on a computer viewing station using a PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System).
There are different ways to go digital, whether you’re upgrading from analog to digital or moving from CR to DR. Retrofits, for example, utilize DR panels to capture images. Therein, x-rays are absorbed in a phosphor screen layer. The x-rays are converted into visible light then, using a photodiode, the x-rays are converted into light photo-charges collected via active matrix thin film transistor (TFT) sensor of the flat panel detector, which creates a signal for each pixel. These signals are digitized and processed and sent to the acquisition workstation for viewing. From here, a PACS is utilized to display, distributed, and archive the digital images.
In more stationary settings, such as a radiation room at a hospital, the solution may be equipped with floor-mounted x-ray tubes, ceiling-mounted x-ray tubes, and radiography/fluoroscopy DR systems. Analog mobile units can also be retrofitted with DR. Although they do come at a premium compared to tethered flat panel detectors, some healthcare professionals advocate for wireless digital solutions, which can more readily be moved to the ER, OR, ICU, or patient bedside. Wireless FPDs are also said to decrease hospital-acquired patient infection over tethered detectors.
Whether it’s fewer retakes with less exposure time, significantly reduced radiation dose, or eliminating a darkroom and the storage space of physical x-ray films, making the move to a digital x-ray solution can be beneficial in a number of ways.