A Device that Simplifies Digital X-Ray System Calibration

Technology #13472

Invention

The University of Florida is seeking companies interested in commercializing a device that easily detects misalignments in digital radiographic equipment’s X-ray fields and light fields, streamlining a once-complicated calibration process. Digital radiographs have quickly replaced screen-film X-rays to become the standard diagnostic tool in hospitals and clinics throughout the United States. For example, General Electric introduced the first digital mammography system in 2000. By 2010, 70 percent of mammography centers had switched from conventional screen-film equipment to Full Field Digital Mammography (FFDM). Also, the August 2010 Dental Products Report revealed that nearly 60 percent of dentists owned a digital X-ray system or digital sensor. Another 21 percent anticipated purchasing one in the future. It is not surprising that clinicians have embraced this technology. Digital X-ray machines offer some distinct advantages over conventional radiographic equipment, including instant viewing without the need for darkroom film processing, decreased radiation exposure, the ability to electronically transfer X-ray images, greater image contrast, and lower long-term costs. Unfortunately, calibrating these systems has proven difficult using existing methods, and even small misalignments between the machines’ X-ray and light fields can lead to excluding relevant anatomy or excessive radiation dose to patients. University of Florida researchers have solved this problem by inventing a user-friendly alignment device that makes X-ray/light field calibration faster and easier.

Application

A device that easily detects X-ray field and light field misalignment, ensuring digital radiographic equipment functions properly

Advantages

  • Designed for portability and versatility, making it easy to transport and calibrate any radiographic system
  • Has a more intuitive design than existing equipment, making it easier to operate
  • Allows for precise congruence between radiation and light fields, minimizing patient dose
  • Reduces the need for repeat tests, saving time and minimizing extraneous costs

Technology

Quality-control testing and maintenance of digital radiographic systems ensures low radiation exposure and clear, consistent images. Accurate beam alignment, in particular, is essential for achieving maximum efficiency from expensive digital X-ray equipment. To date, light field and X-ray field congruence testing has been a complicated, burdensome task. University of Florida researchers have invented a calibration device that promises to streamline quality assurance testing and ensure regulatory compliance, while saving both time and money. They developed this innovative device by modifying a fiber-optic coupled (FOC) dosimetry system. The invention is comprised of a photomultiplier tube (PMT) array and series-to-USB hub, which is connected to a computer’s USB port and five scintillators. Scintillators are composed of scintillating material, which exhibits luminescence when exposed to ionizing radiation. Four scintillators permit visual inspection of X-ray/ light field congruence in real-time, while the remaining scintillator allows testers to assess beam output. As screen-film X-ray machines become obsolete, demand for digital-compatible, user-friendly calibration devices will continue to grow.