What are the new technologies available in a modern digital radiography (DR) system?
Updated: Apr 21
What are the new technologies available in a modern digital radiography (DR) system and how will it benefit your hospital?
Are you tired of waiting amidst long queue just for an X-ray scan? You may have been going to an old facility with outdated radiology department. In this modern eon, present day problems should be addressed with present day solutions. I am not saying that the traditional way of performing x-ray scans are inaccurate, but there are other variety in which modern technology has improved. Going digital in radiography is one way of modernizing your institution.
Instead of using electromagnetic radiation and chemical processing to record an X-ray onto a film, Digital Radiography differs by using X-ray sensitive plates which directly capture data during a patient examination. This technology transfers this image straight to a computer. There are many advances in this kind of technology that radiologists would find very tempting to use in a day to day basis.
In this article, we will talk about the new technologies available in a modern digital radiography (DR) system.
Wireless Communications Technology
An exciting new technology that is worth mentioning is the use of Wireless Communications Technology in Digital Radiography. Unlike their wired counterparts, modern Flat Panel Detector (FPD) DR systems employ a wireless access point inside the detector wherein the user could directly connect to the FPD using any smart device like a smart phone or a tablet PC. Once connected, imaging technologists can view the acquired images immediately after the X-ray exposure is performed. When used during an Operating Room procedure, this will enable the doctors to see the X-ray image while the operation is ongoing so that they could be at ease knowing the fact that what they have done has been successful.
Through the growing possibilities of technology today, it was also made possible to have a highspeed wireless transmission between the workstation and the detector. This gives DR an edge from others for its image acquisition and processing that only takes less than ten seconds.
Automatic Exposure Detection (AED)
Another innovation in the field of radiography is the development of Automatic Exposure Detection or AED. AED eliminates the need for an electrical interface between the FPD and the X-ray generator. Once a radiation exposure has been detected by the FPD, image acquisition and processing will be triggered automatically. Since there is no connection between the FPD and the X-ray generator, modern FPDs can be used and is compatible with any X-ray generator available in the hospital be it in the main X-ray room, portable X-ray machine or at the Emergency Room X-ray machine.
Water and Dust Protection (IP Rating)
An IP rating or also known as Ingress Protection are standards used to define the levels of sealing effectiveness of electrical enclosures against intrusion from foreign bodies such as dirt and water. Contact with fluids is an inevitability that at some point will hinder a medical product’s operational life, specifically in an emergency and high dependency care situation. This is a very important feature for those hospitals with an urgent care facility wherein patients with injury might drip blood to the FPD during an emergency X-ray scan.
Aside from water and dust protection, modern FPDs have enhanced durability. They are designed to withstand falls from a certain height. This is very beneficial for imaging technologists who performs portable X-ray procedures because this will ensure that an accidental drop would not damage this very expensive equipment.
Internal Memory for Image Storage
In DR, images are digitally stored in the workstation’s hard disk drives after image acquisition. This means cabinets and storage shelves are no longer needed to store images as in the case of film radiography. Modern FPDs utilizes internal memory storage on the detector itself so that acquired images would not be lost in case the FPD lost connection with its workstation. This also allows radiologic technologist to perform multiple portable X-ray procedures without bringing a portable workstation. When the radiologic technologist returns to the radiology department and the FPD connects again to the workstation, images can then be seamlessly imported from the FPD to the workstation. This internal memory of the FPD can usually store 100 to 200 X-ray images.
Hot Swappable Batteries
Modern FPDs are equipped with hot swappable batteries with an enhanced battery life. Having this feature would allow users to change the batteries without turning off the FPD enabling them to use it immediately after changing the batteries. When changing the batteries of previous generations of FPD, users would need to turn it off first prior to removing and replacing the batteries and wait for the FPD to boot up that would usually take a minute making the process bothersome.
An increase in battery life is a plus to many facilities, because of the mobile feature of the digital x-rays, it is crucial to have an enhanced battery life. This would result in increasing the number of patients the radiologic technologist could accommodate without the fear of the FPD shutting down mid-exposure because of the battery.
Near Field Communication (NFC)
And lastly, modern DRs are equipped with Near Field Communication or NFC technology. This provide system-to-system portability of the panels and enables the changing of its configuration by simply tapping a card on the FPD. A medical imaging facility that uses NFC technology allows the ability to use a single FPD across multiple x-ray systems quickly and conveniently.
Upgrading into digital radiography is a necessary investment if medical practices want to enhance diagnostics and improve efficiency. Innovations in digital radiography technology have come a long way, and with more hospitals and clinics adopting to DR technology, the field will continue to benefit. There are practically no regrets if the proper system is chosen. An investment in digital radiography will usually pay for itself with improved image quality, faster processing times, potentially lower radiation doses, digital storage, gains in productivity and a more efficient workflow.
Now that we’ve discussed all the features and benefits of modern DR, we hope this article has provided you with a few helpful tips and clarity to find the system that is right for you.
Want to see how these different flat panel detectors work in digital radiography? Watch the following videos: