Steps for Automatic Processing of X-Rays

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An automatic X-ray film processor is a series of chemical-filled tanks and a roller system that transports sheets of exposed X-ray film through the developing solution, fixer, water and dryer. In the developing solution, exposed silver halide crystals are chemically converted to black metallic silver, producing the dark areas on the image. The fixer removes unexposed silver crystals to produce the clear areas on the film and to stabilize the image for archiving. In the third tank, water removes residual developing chemicals. The film is then transported through the dryer. Developing film in an automatic X-ray film processor is a simple task that requires basic knowledge of darkroom procedures.

Transport the X-ray cassette containing the exposed X-ray film to the darkroom. Turn off all lights except the red safe light. Place the cassette on the workbench. Open the latch on the cassette and remove the X-ray film. Place the film on the feed tray of the automatic processor so its short axis is parallel to and flush with the side of the tray. Slide the film toward the first set of rollers until you feel the transport system grasp the film. Listen for a chime or buzz that tells you the film is sufficiently advanced into the processor to safely turn on the lights, open the door or to put in another film.

Open the film bin and retrieve a replacement sheet of X-ray film. Close the bin. Place the film in the cassette and feel to make sure the film is seated inside the cassette. Close the cassette and latch securely.

Verify the security of your film before turning on any lights or opening the door to the darkroom that could potentially expose and damage light-sensitive X-ray film. In addition to listening for an audible signal that your processing film is safely inside the processor, where it cannot be exposed to outside light, sweep your hand across the feed tray and feel to ensure the film has been fed into the processor by the transport system. Tap the film bin door with your foot to make sure it is closed. This security measure is referred to as the "sweep-and-kick" maneuver.

Exit the darkroom. Depending on the manufacturer and type of processor, the developed and dried film will emerge from the processor 90 to 180 seconds from the time it was initially fed into the transport system.

About the Author

Denise Nyland "Denisen" is a long term resident of Panama City, Fla. She studied radiologic sciences and education and has published articles in multiple professional journals and contributed to various educational texts.

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