Creating a computed radiography (CR) X-ray technique chart may seem difficult due to a great number of variables among systems, users and patients. Some technique charts supplied by manufacturers are constructed using X-ray phantoms, which may be described as test dummies that simulate human bone and soft tissue. If this isn't feasible, it is highly recommended that a technique chart be produced by someone with knowledge of the factors affecting X-ray production and human exposure to radiation. The end result will be patient safety.
- Skill level:
Contact the manufacturer of your computed radiography system, if possible. Many manufacturers provide technique charts intended specifically for their X-ray equipment.
Consult a professional with a background in computed radiography. Radiologic technologists often use X-ray techniques on a daily basis, but there may be other professionals who can aid in the construction of a technique chart as well. Understanding through education and practice is indispensable.
Research handbooks or textbooks about radiographic positioning and techniques. These often contain information about baseline techniques for hundreds of X-ray positions. For information on all of the various factors that affect radiation exposure, radiation physics books frequently provide thorough insight. There are enough factors and considerations to fill many pages of a textbook!
Give Yourself a Guide
Choose the anatomy you wish to X-ray from a menu. There may be multiple menus on several pages, so check carefully before you select your option. Some CR systems do not offer this type of menu, but it can greatly simplify decisions about technique if it is available.
Measure the patient if the program asks you to specify a size. You will want to measure the thickest area that the X-rays will pass through. Many systems require the use of centimetres.
Input the change in centimetres if it differs from average body size. Some menus simply require you to click on arrows to increase or decrease the number of centimetres. The exposure factors may automatically adjust once you enter the correct measurement.
Using Anatomically-Based CR Software
Tips and warnings
- Many CR systems display a sensitivity number, or "S" number, to indicate the amount of X-ray exposure that has passed through the patient. CR software can correct issues with an X-ray being too light or too dark, which can mask the fact that you've over- or underexposed your patient. If your X-ray falls outside of the range of the "S" number, you've either administered too much or too little radiation for an adequate amount of exposure. Often, information about "S" number range may be obtained from the manufacturer of the X-ray equipment.
- When you start using X-ray techniques, there will be some trial and error. However, unless you are experimenting on X-ray phantoms, always remember that any time you take an X-ray, you are exposing a patient to radiation that can potentially alter normal body function. Repeated X-rays should be minimised.
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