Before you can understand and properly use positioning aids, you need to understand the "field of view" for imaging. Understanding the field of view is critical when using positioning aids properly. When a technologist needs to take an image, x-ray positioning sponges are used for generally two purposes: First is comfort and support for a patient while imaging a specific body part.
Using an example of a patient who was in a car accident and broke their hand: you need to take an image of the damaged hand. However, the patient's arm is badly scrapped or cut and they are extremely sore or bleeding.
To position the patient properly, safely, and comfortably, you may use a positioning sponge to prop up their arm. Since you are imaging only the hand, this sponge is not in the field of view. Because of this, it does not matter if this sponge is radiolucent or if it will show in an image. The positioning aid (if a coated sponge) is protected from bodily fluids and can be wiped clean after use.
The other purpose is positioning the actual body part in the image. For example, you need to image the hand of the patient in the car accident. However, the hand is so badly damaged that you cannot spread the fingers apart properly to get the angles needed. You may use a sponge to rest the patient's hand during the procedure. The angles or "steps" of a hand sponge will help spread the fingers and position them properly for the image. Since this sponge is in the field of view, it is extremely important to be radiolucent and not show an artifact.
Artifacts and Acceptable Images
Now that you understand what the field of view is, you need to understand an artifact. An artifact is anything that shows on an image that distorts or disrupts the image of the body part being examined. This is not to be confused with a sponge showing outside of the body part.
Using the damaged hand as an example again: If the hand is shown in the image and the only part of the sponge you see is the outer border (passing through the wrist or arm), this is not an artifact. This is considered an acceptable image. Since the sponge only shows through a part of the body not being examined, it is not considered an artifact. It is only when a line or mark shows through the body part or extremity being imaged that it is considered an artifact.
Artifacts are different than shadows. Shadows may occur with any sponge. However, a sponge will instantly show on an image if it has any sort of coating. A coated sponge or vinyl-covered sponge will show shadowing on any image. The chemical composition of the coating and the thickness and material of vinyl shows during imaging. However, shadowing does not make an image unacceptable. As mentioned before, it is only when a line or mark shows through the specific body part being examined that it is an unacceptable image.
Types of X-Ray Positioning Sponges:
Closed Cell Sponges are made from a lightweight, radiolucent, non-porous foam. This type of positioning sponge is entirely fluid-resistant, easy to clean, and extremely durable.
Coated Sponges are radiolucent and feature a proprietary medical-grade, fluid-resistant, cleanable coating over a standard (core) foam interior. It has minimal shadowing with low attenuation.
Non-Stealth Coated Sponges have the same features as coated sponges but are formed with traditional angles and do not feature proprietary "flared" angles to offer significantly reduced artifacts during viewing. Non-stealth (or non-flared) sides may show artifacts when imaging, specifically when a coating is applied.
Coated Stealth Sponges also have the same features as coated sponges but are designed with proprietary "flared" angles to offer significantly reduced artifacts during viewing. Flared sides will increase the overall size.
Non-Coated Sponges are a basic (core), open-cell piece of foam. These sponges do not feature a cleanable surface and are not resistant to fluid absorption.
Non-Coated Non-Stealth Sponges have the same features as non-coated sponges but are formed with traditional angles and do not feature proprietary "flared" angles to offer significantly reduced artifacts during viewing. Non-stealth (or non-flared) sides may show artifacts when imaging, specifically when a coating is applied
Non-Coated Stealth Sponges also have the same features as Non-coated sponges but are designed with proprietary "flared" angles to offer significantly reduce artifacts during viewing. Flared sides will increase the overall size.
Vinyl Covered Sponges are made from a high density, lightweight foam and covered in heavy-gauge, reinforced vinyl. This premium type of positioning sponge helps create extreme patient comfort during long procedures!
They feature a non-porous, cleanable surface, and durable vinyl sponges include completely sewn seams to ensure complete protection and sanitation. Vinyl-covered sponges are radiolucent but seams will show under x-ray.
Other Types of X-Ray Positioning Aids:
MRI Positioning Aids, or MRI Positioners, meet all requirements for MRI compatibility and safety. They are approved for use up to 3 Tesla. The unique viscoelastic material is specifically designed for patient comfort and durability. The coated nylon is flexible, fluid & stain-resistant, and features permanent anti-microbial properties.
Platforms and Stools often include durable, skid-resistant, rubber mats for increased patient stability. They are easy to clean and sanitize between uses. They are sturdy and usually made of steel for patient comfort and safety.
Premium, heavy-gauge vinyl sandbags are an ideal option for quick and comfortable patient positioning. Sandsocks are similarly used for patient positioning as well. They are flexible making them the perfect solution for hard to hold or irregular anatomy. Sandbags and sandsocks are the perfect solutions for nearly every positioning need such as veterinary use, therapeutic and rehabilitation applications, surgical after-care, and general patient positioning.
Sandbags feature a heat-sealed inner sleeve, covered by a completely sewn and reinforced vinyl for long-lasting durability. They are available with either a standard comfort loop handle or an upgraded hook & loop, AC joint wrist strap. Vinyl sandsocks feature reinforced double seams for extended durability.
Specialty Positioning Aids include immobilizers, straps, troughs, and leg supports.
For more on x-ray positioning sponges, read more about the Types of X-Ray Sponges Explained. For any questions about sponges or positioning aids, contact us today.