As an MRI provider, you have to stay on top of a lot of moving parts—literally and figuratively. At Atlantis Worldwide, we understand and thought we’d provide a global overview of an MRI cold head. As you know, a cold head re-condenses the helium gas within the MRI cooling system to liquid, to prevent it from burning off entirely.
The re-condensing margin is the measure of the MRI cold head’s performance. Every MRI system is a littler different, and your console should provide the metrics for its number.
On average, a cold head loses approximately 10% of its cooling capacity every year, which reducing the rec-condensing margin. This is due to the tremendous amount of cooling an MRI cold head performs.
As that margin approaches zero, at Atlantis Worldwide we recommend that the cold head be replaced. If you don’t replace it in a timely fashion, it can lead to a magnet quench, which can put your MRI scanner out of commission for a good while, costing you time and money.
Each cold head in an MRI is a unique unit and will experience a unique level of usage. However, as a rule it’s wise to replace a refurbished cold head every 3-4 years and a new cold head every 4-5 years.
Having a Problem With Your Cold Head? Here are Solutions!
Q: What happens if I get impurities in my helium or get oil inside my MRI’s compressor?
A: Contamination can cause damage. While it takes a while for contamination issues to present themselves, it can cause serious consequences. If you replace your system’s absorber on an annual basis, it will reduce the likelihood that oil could move from your compressor and contaminate your cold head. The absorber serves as the final filtration measure that keeps oil out of your cold head and allows pure helium through. However, once the absorber reaches saturation, contamination is more likely.
Q: How do I know if my cold head is contaminated?
A: Your service provider can test your oil and air, which will tell you if contamination is present. Lower levels of contamination may not harm your system immediately, but over time it will get worse. It’s always wise to work with qualified MRI field engineers, especially when installing a new cold head.
Q: My re-condensing margin is dropping or fluctuating. What does that mean?
A: This could mean your cold head is failing and in all likelihood, your level of helium loss will continue to increase. This should be dealt with immediately, as the cost to replace helium is expensive. If your helium level margin were to drop to zero, it burns off more quickly and your magnet won’t be cooled properly.
Q: I need a new cold head. What’s it going to cost me?
A: That depends on whether you’re going to buy a new one or a refurbished. However, as a rule the cost is about $10,000-$15,000.
A little preventative maintenance goes a long way in protecting the investment in your cold head. However, should you be in need of a pre-owned MRI, talk to the experts at Atlantis Worldwide. We’re happy to help! Contact Us Today!
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Meet the author: Vikki Harmonay