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Tips for keeping your MR coils in top working order

Lisa Chamoff, Contributing Reporter | September 08, 2021
GE Healthcare MR coil courtesy of Innovatus Imaging
From the September 2021 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

MR coils are one of the keys to high-quality MR imaging. The delicate pieces of equipment are also heavily utilized and in close contact with patients, so it is important to disinfect them regularly.

We asked service professions what they recommend for ensuring coils have a long, healthy life.

Precious cargo
In general, coil lifespan is in direct proportion to the level and care of handling that is employed in the department, said Ted Lucidi, clinical marketing and commercial specialist at Innovatus Imaging.

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“Recently, MR coil design has been enjoying significant technological advancements. Today’s newer coil designs are light, flexible, and form-fitting. They are multipurpose and some employ fiber optics. All of these technical advancements lead to coils that are much more fragile than traditional coil designs,” Lucidi said.

Most MR coil failures are a direct result of, or are related to mechanical damage or trauma, according to failure analysis data amassed by Innovatus, with more than 35% of all coils presenting with mechanical damage due to trauma and an additional 18% related to trauma and/or improper use.

“The remaining 47% of coil failures may be considered related to general wear, electronic failures or unknown reasons,” Lucidi said. “To extend the life of an MR coil, it’s recommended to partner with an organization that is able to actually restore the coil’s life cycle and reset the timeline versus merely offering a repair.”

End users should always ensure they handle coils properly — by lifting from the base. Often, volume coils, such as head and knee coils, get broken by lifting from the top cage, said Ray McClellan, president of MRI Technical Services Inc.

“Many coils are bulky, heavy and fragile,” McClellan said. “Lifting [or] moving them by just grabbing any available handle can cause physical damage, and oftentimes the easiest way to pick them up is the most damaging.”

Technicians should take care when plugging coils into their connectors.

“Take care not to insert or remove connectors at an angle,” McClellan said. “All of them have keys for proper alignment, but if you try hard enough you will bend pins and break housings.”

Take care in how cables are positioned.

“Many coils come in with internally broken wires in the cables from repeatedly being bent too sharply in the same place,” McClellan said. “When scanning, try to position cables in the least stressful position available in accordance with the OEM safety recommendations.”

For larger coils, like the spine coils, users should take care during storage not to sit the coil upright so the full weight of it is on the cable, McClellan said. This also causes internal broken conductors.

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