New Mini X-ray Machines Help Speed Up Surgery

Two advanced mini X-ray imaging machines are now being used in theatres at Forth Valley Royal Hospital to help reduce delays and free up radiographers to see more patients.

The machines, known as Mini C-arms, allow surgeons to take their own X-rays and home in on specific areas of the body during an operation without the need for a radiographer to be present to set up and operate the X-ray equipment. The machines are specifically designed to X-ray smaller joints, such as wrists, ankles and hands during surgery.

Until now, radiographers have had to leave their department to manoeuvre heavy X-ray equipment to theatres, assemble the different parts and stay throughout surgery to take any images required by the surgeon. This has led to delays and sometimes resulted in theatre lists having to be re-organised. It has also taken radiography staff away from the radiology department for periods of time which has reduced capacity and meant other patients sometimes having to wait longer for X-rays and other scans to be carried out.

NHS Forth Valley, Radiology Manager, Jennifer Gilchrist, explained: “The mini C-arm is a very versatile and mobile piece of equipment which makes it easier for surgical staff to manoeuvre the equipment into any position they wish to help provide a clearer view of the area being operated on. It also reduces the radiation dose patients receive due to the smaller field of view, and smaller distance between the X-ray tube and detector.

“In the past, theatres could require up to four radiographers at the same time to deliver the X-ray service required during surgery. This reduced the number of staff available in the radiology department to provide X-ray services for patients attending the Emergency Department and our assessment units as well as meeting the imaging requirements of patients in wards across the hospital. These new mini X-ray machines have helped free up our radiography staff and enable them to X-ray other patients more quickly.”

In NHS Forth Valley, surgical staff have been trained to use the new X-ray equipment which is particularly useful for orthopaedic procedures to review images of the bone and check the positioning of any pins or plates inserted.

NHS Forth Valley, Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Turab Syed, commented: “The benefit of the mini C- arms is having X-ray screening available straightaway, especially for emergency cases, which will lead to greater efficiency of theatre lists.”