Instrumentation

It is imperative that the instrumentation characteristics be reported in order to understand both how the data were collected and any limitations imposed on the study due to the technology used. More importantly, without the information, it may not be possible to reproduce the results. Included in the narrative should be a description of the x-ray unit and electrical power supply. A complete account of the type of image receptor is extremely important. If conventional film was the recording media, the report must provide information such as its manufacturer, specific type, and expiration date. Taking into consideration the security issues we face in the 21st century, it would be particularly helpful to know how the film was obtained and transported to the site where it will be finally used. For example, if it is transported in checked baggage, it will probably go through a radiographic screening process. Also important is a description of how the film was used. For example, notation of how the film was loaded into a nonscreen holder or the use of a cassette with an intensifying screen gives detail to those reading the report. If the latter was the case, the description should include the screen manufacturer and relative screen speed. Finally, a complete explanation of how the exposed film was processed must be included. If it was manual processing, the manufacturer and specifications of all the chemicals used must be included. If it was automatic processing, there should be a description of the normal operation of the facility. For example, in a major medical center, 50-100 additional films put through the processor will not make a difference. On the other hand, the same volume of films put through the processor in a rural center may exceed the number of films processed in a month and have a negative effect on the resulting image quality.

If instead of film, a digital image receptor, either computed radiography (CR) or direct digital radiography (DR), was used, less information will be needed. However, the manufacturer, the algorithms employed, the "S" number, and depending on the system, the "G" or "L" values must be included in the narrative.

Supportive technologies should also be described and documented with photography. Notations about the tube support system used and the image receptor support should be included in the report. Also of importance are the workflow characteristics employed in the study. Future researchers would benefit from ideas regarding efficient throughput methods developed and adapted to the study at hand.

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