Can we continue to use technique charts?
Yes. Facilities should continue to develop and use technique charts for their clinical exams, especially for AEC modes where kVp and other technique factors must be selected by the technologist. The only place where the words “technique chart” appear in the regulations is in the annual AEC performance test requirement. This regulation places a restriction on the use of a specific factor of the technique chart, the density control setting, when the medical physicist is performing the AEC test. The medical physicist may not adjust the density control setting while performing the AEC test in the 2 to 6 cm range. In other words, the medical physicist may not use the density control setting to compensate for inadequate performance of the AEC. When performing this test, the medical physicist may use a technique chart to adjust other factors such as kVp, filter, anode track or AEC mode to the extent such factors are used clinically. If the AEC performance test fails, the medical physicist may create a temporary technique chart that includes the appropriate density settings (in addition to the other technique factors). This temporary technique chart may then be used by the facility for up to 30 days, or until the problem has been corrected and the equipment passes the AEC performance test, whichever comes first.
When the AEC is functioning properly, the radiologic technologist shouldn’t need to adjust the density control setting while imaging patients who are in the 2 to 6 cm range. If the radiologic technologist needs to continually adjust the density control to achieve films of adequate density, the AEC may need adjustment and the medical physicist should be consulted.
The regulations do not restrict the use of technique charts by radiologic technologists. While a properly functioning AEC should reduce the need to use the density setting component of a technique chart, radiologic technologists may use these charts to change the density control settings whenever they believe it appropriate during the performance of clinical mammographic examinations. In addition, the regulations do not preclude the use of the manual mode and under that scenario, the use of technique charts is essential.