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Hot Days & Cold Heads: MRI System Solutions

Summer is here, the weather is heating up, and many facilities might be experiencing issues with their cold head unit. This article will help you identify whether it is time to replace the cold head or simply upgrade the entire MRI system: Hot Days & Cold Heads.

What is a Cold Head?

First off, the most important part of an MRI machine is the magnet. For the magnet to run properly, there needs to be a cooling system inside to keep the temperature at an appropriate level. Thousands of liters of helium is required for use in the cooling system. As the magnet goes through the cooling process, the cold head gets to work. The cold head will take the helium gas and re-condense it into liquid. This process is crucial because it prevents the helium from burning off and it prevents a magnet quench.

Hot Days & Cold Heads: When to replace?

There are two primary reasons that cold heads fail: Contamination & Age. As your MRI ages, so will the cold head. Think about it… the magnet is running constantly, 24/7, so eventually it will wear out. Overtime the absorbers can become saturated by pollutions and oil can get into the compressor. If this happens, the helium will become contaminated and cause the cold head to fail. Sooner or Later, the cooling capacity will also decrease. In fact, the cooling system loses 10% capacity each year. Therefore, the older the MRI system the more cold head issues.

Hot Days & Cold Heads: How to replace?

As you can see, the cold head requires regular maintenance. During the warmer seasons, the cooling system is having to work even harder which can speed up the life expectancy. Unforeseen errors with a cold head can lead to a catastrophic failure to the entire MRI system. Its important to keep an eye on the compressor. If there is dropping or fluctuating in the re-condensing margin (change in helium), it is recommended to replace the cold head as soon as possible. Replacing a cold head can cost anywhere from $5,000-10,000 and typically the cold head should be replaced every 3-4 years. Alternatively, you may want to ask yourself a more important question…

Is it Time to Upgrade the entire MRI system?

How old is the equipment? How often is your system down? How much are the repairs costing? As mentioned, age is a leading cause to cold head failure. Similarly, if the cold head is starting to go bad there may be other parts that are aging out as well. It’s worth a call to start the analysis process and KMG is here to help answer all your questions.

“Good enough” simply isn’t good enough. That’s why KMG goes the extra mile to understand your needs – both today’s and tomorrow’s – and we want to deliver the solutions and services you need to succeed. CONTACT US to learn more about KMG’s Interim unit delivery, Modular units or In-house solutions. We are here to walk you through the entire process.

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