Learning to Drive
This column is typically dedicated to the technical aspects of ultrasound service and support but we have only briefly touched on an almost equally important part of ultrasound service: the actual operation of the system.
In a previous column, the topic of clinical applications was discussed and how it is important to understand image quality, image optimization and the different imaging modes of ultrasound systems, but there is another part of the equipment operation that is important for service engineers to understand which pertains to preventative maintenance and functionality testing.
When performing a comprehensive preventative maintenance, you must access different menus, features and functions of systems. For example, to make a backup (and if you have been paying attention to this column over the years, you know I am a backup fanatic), you must know how to access these menus for the various makes and models you are supporting since almost every system is different. Also, if the PM you are performing is American College of Radiology (ACR) compliant, there are measurements you complete for penetration. Do you know how to access and use the measurement calipers?
When our engineers perform PMs, they also send images to PACS for record keeping purposes and to make a hard copy. On most contemporary systems, this requires creating a patient file so you must begin an exam and enter patient information in order to store images. Typically you will enter the system type, customer name, serial number or other system-specific information. This is fairly straight-forward but does require system operation knowledge.
Another reason for this is a situation every service engineer has faced and dreads: You complete service on a system, leave the site and get a call that something is not working and since you touched it last, you are responsible. By beginning a patient file, going into the different imaging modes and storing screenshots of this and sending to PACS, you are confirming operation of the system after a service and can show the customer you validated operation.
I encourage the readers of this column that while they hone their technical skills, they continue to learn the operational side of ultrasound systems as well.