X-RAY FILM EXPOSURE AND PROCESSING
The head of the x-ray machine is very difficult to disinfect. It is recommended to cover it with a plastic bag. A cleaner’s 30″ bag works well. These bags are inexpensive and save time.
The switch on the x-ray machine should be covered with plastic or foil and changed between patients. Disinfectant cannot be sprayed directly into the switches.
It is best to be prepared. X-ray film should be retrieved at the same time as collection of initial supplies for the patient. They can be placed in a clean paper cup to the side. If they are not used, they can be used on the next patient.
Never hold the film in the patient’s mouth and always stand behind a protective barrier when using radiation. Don overgloves or use paper towels and place the protective shield on the patient. Remove overgloves and expose film.
Place the film in a paper cup as it is exposed. If a shelve or counter top is used to lay the film, it should be covered with plastic or a paper barrier.
After exposing film, don overgloves. Remove the shield from the patient.
Take the film to the darkroom. Close door and remove overgloves. Open film packets and holding film by the edges, place into the processor slots. Do not handle slots with bare hands as they are considered contaminated. The film drop area is kept clean. If film are opened onto a clean paper towel and exam gloves are removed, the film is not contaminated. However, powder from the gloves can contaminate the film and make it non-diagnostic.
Manual or Automatic Processing
For manual processing, while holding the film by the edges, clip film onto the film hanger and process. For the automatic processor, slip the film into processor slots.
If utilizing a daylight loader type processor, open the front of the machine placing the cup containing the exposed film on the tray that has been lined with a piece of plastic wrap. You are wearing overgloves. Insert hands and remove the overgloves. Open the film packets and insert film. The slots are considered contaminated area. Remove exam gloves and pull hands back out of sleeves. Re-glove. Lift lid and discard contaminated film holders and contaminated gloves. After returning to patient, re-wash and don new exam gloves in front of patient.
If using a panoramic or other extra oral type exposure, cleaning is simplified. The unit needs only to be cleaned on the parts the patients contact, such as the guides, handles, chin rest, etc. Sterilized “bite” blocks or plastic “bite” block covers are used between patients. Plastic baggies over the chin rest and bite block are an alternative. If using disposable plastic covers, place them on in front of the patient.
Processing film requires no special precautions because the cassettes or film have not been contaminated. However, the slots in the processor are still considered contaminated because of processing intraoral film.