Can I use my current x-ray system when upgrading to digital?
This is a very common question that doesn’t have a simple yes or no answer. Most x-ray systems in use today will be fine to use with most digital upgrades available. However, there are some things to consider.
First, we hear a lot of clinics say, “I heard that I need a Hi-Frequency x-ray system when I upgrade to digital imaging.” This is, in general, not true. While having a Hi-Frequency x-ray system comes with many benefits to the clinic and the patients, it is not a necessity for use with digital upgrades. If the clinic that would like to go digital has a Standard Frequency x-ray system that is in good working condition and properly calibrated, it should work just fine.
Some Standard Frequency x-ray systems that are still in use today in clinics across the country are very old and parts are no longer being produced. In some cases, parts for some systems are simply no longer available. In this case, it may be a good idea to factor an x-ray upgrade into the purchase of your digital upgrade. Upgrading to digital x-ray usually means you will be taking more x-rays than ever. The upgrade to digital and this additional usage could result in old x-ray parts wearing out even faster resulting in the need to purchase a new x-ray system a short time after upgrading to digital. In this case, you should consider upgrading now and making the change all at once.
Changing from an old standard frequency to a new x-ray generator is going to require some retraining and changes to your x-ray techniques. It can be easiest on your office and techs to do this together with the training for your new digital x-ray detector.
Lastly, most digital upgrades today are advanced enough to capture x-ray regardless of the source. However, there are always exceptions. A low quality digital system paired with a very old Standard Frequency x-ray system could result in “lost” images, which are exposures taken that do not produce an image. This happens because the output of x-rays per second is so low that the detector doesn’t realize you’ve taken an x-ray. This is mostly the case with spine exams, which already require a long exposure. Older standard frequency x-rays are also more likely to give a poor image quality that are below diagnostic levels and not accepted by radiologists. This can be due to the inconsistency in the actual output of the machine or because the long exposure times increase patient movement and image noise.
Overall, the quality of your x-ray image is a direct result of the quality of equipment being used to produce them.