Oh, How I Love Thee, FPD, let me count the ways…
FPDs (flat panel detectors) have become quite commonplace in X-ray departments in the last few years, thanks to the drop in system pricing, vendor competition, and some hospital budgets slowly allowing some room for the acquisition of more cutting edge technology. So, you can’t help but to be smitten with the FPDs.
One of the general laws of the land in the Radiology has been that a digital room can replace two analog rooms, give or take most circumstances. Reducing patient exam times by eliminating the darkroom concept and even skipping CR (Computed Radiography) imaging plate processing is aided by lightning fast image preview times that the flat panel detector provides. Of course shorter exam times result in happier patients and often times higher levels of cooperation. Everybody happily wins, especially the Radiologist, with optimal image quality and higher levels of resolution and detail.
Speaking of happy, the majority of people I speak with from Rad. techs to directors to biomedical engineers, have pretty much all been pleasantly surprised at the overall durability of these digital detectors, especially the portable versions that are toted all around the facility. In the beginning, we all thought we were handing over $150,000 pieces of rare stained glass to the X-ray technologists to run off to the ICU and then manhandle while taking several portable Chest X-rays every morning. But, as it turns out, even when bumped, scraped, dropped, and romped, the FPDs have basically held up better than expected. Even the vendors are wowed by the durability that results from implementing this type of technology.
Another interesting tidbit that I hear from time to time is the impact on not only radiation safety through lower patient dose but also the impact specifically related to employee safety as technologists are suffering less repetitive motion injuries. Think back long ago in the dark ages, literally the dark ages, where techs had to continuously open and shut X-ray film cassettes in the dark room just to process the image. That was a lot of wear and tear on the wrists, hands, and fingers. When Computed Radiography (CR) entered the market, the practice of opening and shutting the X-ray cassettes went away, but radiographers still had to handle each imaging plate several times, in and out of table and wall Buckys, and then into the CR readers. Alas, to the rescue came FPDs. Yes, these digital detectors still have to be carried around to some degree when they are not in a fixed system configuration, but they don’t see near as much repetitive motion as their technological predecessors.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my homage to digital flat panel detector technology. If your facility has had great success or if you’d like to contribute feedback on FPDs or this blog, please reach out to us and respond below.