From sprinkler malfunctions to natural disasters, x-rays can receive water damage in a variety of manners. In such instances, x-ray recovery may be about more than preserving patient records it might be about saving lives. While document recovery for x-rays is possible, you must act quickly to salvage them before the water causes irreparable damage. Including recovery steps in a disaster preparation plan will help your staff know what to do to save as many images as possible.
X-Ray Film and Water
Non-digital x-rays contain an emulsion, which is a light-sensitive coating that contains microscopic silver halide crystals suspended in a gel-like substance. Exposing the crystals to light causes them to undergo an extensive chemical reaction that creates an image on the plastic base. When water contacts x-rays, the gel-like substance in the emulsion begins to dissolve, giving the film a slippery feel. The longer that water touches the film, the more the emulsion will separate from the base and affect the image. If the x-ray is discolored because of water damage, x-ray recovery may be possible. Once the film becomes soupy, it might be too late.
Salvaging X-Rays with Water Damage
As soon as x-rays receive water damage, contact a document recovery specialist at Polygon. If the HVAC system still works in the room where you store the x-rays, turn down the temperature to the lowest setting possible to slow the deterioration process. Then separate the dry x-rays from the wet ones so they do not absorb the moisture. Do not remove wet x-rays from their jackets. Instead, place them in a freezer as soon as possible to halt the degradation process and prevent serious damage. A specialist at Polygon might recommend freezing the x-rays that don’t have noticeable water damage as well. If the jacket has any moisture, mold might develop, so it’s necessary to ensure that they are completely dry before you store them.
When wet x-rays are not in jackets, they might stick together. Do not try to peel them apart because doing so could damage the emulsion. Place the x-rays in a shallow tub filled with clean, cold tap water. The films may separate on their own. If they do, remove them from the water and stack them using wax paper between each film. If the x-rays do not separate after a couple of hours, remove them from the water, cover the exposed sides with wax paper and freeze them.
When wet x-rays are dirty, you may rinse them by placing them individually in a tub filled with clean water. Do not touch or rub the x-ray to remove the debris because you might damage the emulsion. If the water does not lift the debris, freeze the x-ray and let a professional clean it for you.
X-Ray Recovery with Polygon
In general, Polygon uses freeze-drying to dry wet x-rays. There may be instances, however, when hand-drying is more appropriate. The freeze-drying process begins with freezing the films and their jackets before placing them in a special pressurized chamber to stabilize them. When the chamber reaches a specific pressure level and temperature, the moisture in the affected items turns into vapor. A condensing mechanism outside the chamber attracts the vapor, collects it and turns it into ice without distorting or damaging the film. Because the chamber turns the ice into vapor, it is less at risk for distorting, staining, expanding and sticking. Polygon’s document recovery services also include cleaning and deodorizing the film.
Polygon has over 25 years of experience in records restoration using tailored document recovery methods that best meet your needs. Make the x-ray salvaging process simpler with Polygon’s Code Blue Program, which complements disaster preparation plans well. The free program helps you plan for the document restoration process better and hastens the recovery process if you experience a disaster. Talk to a specialist today to learn more or to start recovering wet x-rays.