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What is the CT Scanner Tube’s Lifespan?

CT Scanner Maintenance: Calibration

What is a CT Scanner tube’s life span?  Well It depends on frequency of use, types of exams, and patient population. Studies have shown there is no set limit.

There are many factors such as: Mechanical, environmental, and usage, that can affect the life expectancy of the CT tube.

Here are some metrics used to determine CT tube life span

  1. Total patient exams: includes # of cases performed. This is the most uncertain method and rarely used. Plus, this metric doesn’t include the length or type of the exam.
  2. Clicks and counts: Shows how many exposures ( like the odometer on a car). Doesn’t include energy used. From the clicks you can calculate the amount of time the tube has been used based on the gantry rotation speed.
  3. Scan Seconds: Measures the duration of the tube exposures. Doesn’t include the amount of heat that ran through the tube.
  4. mAS: Provides both the duration of exposures and how much power ran through the tube. Therefore, this is the most accurate metric.

New, used and state of the art CT scanners all have a life span. But just how long?  

In 2013, Pub med published a multi-year CT scanner analysis done to assess and compare CT tube life with the manufacturer warranty coverage.

  • 40 Performix Ultra tubes were compared with 10 perfomix Protube for a period of 6 years
  • Pro CT- exceeded the manufacturer’s warranty of 6000 exams or 12 months. The mean values were 12.5 – 19 months
  • Ultra CT xray tubes didn’t meet the manufacturer’s warranty coverage limits. The average lifespan was 8 months and 48.1kAs

New tubes range in price range from $100,000.00 – $350,000.00

For more information

Predicting CT tube lifespan is very difficult to determine. On average a 7MHU (mega heat unit) will last more than 150 million mAs and 4MHU will last approximately 70 – 100 million mAs. Philips MRC tubes are very long lasting and the best tubes on the market to date.

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Here are some tips to increase the lifespan of your CT Tube

  1. Keep the CT scanner within heat and cooling curves to prevent pitting of the focal track. CT scanners produce a great deal of heat. Stick to the suggested levels of operation to avoid any potential melting to the CT scanner’s x-ray tube.
  2. Rotor operation. Varies from CT scanner to scanner. Be sure to monitor the rotor brake cycle. There should be a 30-40 second break after the rotor stops. Anytime less than that can decrease the CT tube’s lifespan.
  3. Filament Boost and Current  Stay within the recommended current (mA), exposure time, and voltage (kVP) specific to each patients examination.

How to tell if the CT tube needs to be replaced? Here are some things to look for.

  1. Tungsten deposited on the internal surface of the glass tube window
  2. Oil around the the xray tube indicates issues with bearings, rotor, or tube housing. If you can hear oil being sucked into the tube inset when powered up indicates a punctured tube.
  3. Cracks in the x-ray tube indicates the vacuum has been compromised. Be sure to handle the tube with care.
  4. X-ray tube gas: indicates loss of vacuum inside the tube and is a serious condition. The unit should be powered down and examined by the biomed engineering team.

Be sure to follow the above tips to preserve the CT tube lifespan. Newer CT units if used properly should last 10 years even after continuous operation.

If your department needs a new CT scanner why not consider getting a used or a refurbished unit?

Remember you don’t need state of the art CT scanners to take quality images. The type of tube will determine the amount and quality of the images taken. There are plenty of used or refurbished equipment on the market. Perhaps you just need certain components replaced instead of purchasing a brand new unit.

But if you need to upgrade to multi-sliced units Amber’s got you covered. Check out our extensive inventory of used CT scanners. We have most makes and models and we even have barely used scanners for the fraction of the cost of a new unit.  

Amber has been refurbishing imaging equipment longer than any other company on the market. Let Amber’s 27 years of experience help pick out the best CT scanner for your department or repair your current scanner.

We know that patient’s imaging needs are the number one concern. We will help you pick out the best unit to fit your budget and imaging needs. Our job is not complete until you are completely satisfied with the CT scanner. From the initial phone call to the final installation we will always be there to answer any questions or concerns that you may have.  

Call us and let our friendly service engineers walk you through from purchasing to installing a high quality multi-slice unit in your facility.


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