(19)
(11)EP 2 454 994 B1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT SPECIFICATION

(45)Mention of the grant of the patent:
04.10.2017 Bulletin 2017/40

(21)Application number: 11189442.4

(22)Date of filing:  16.11.2011
(51)Int. Cl.: 
A61B 6/10  (2006.01)
A61B 6/03  (2006.01)

(54)

Portable X-ray machine with drive wheel suspension

Tragbares Röntgengerät mit Antriebsradaufhängung

Machine à rayons X portable avec suspensions de roues motrices


(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 23.11.2010 US 953218

(43)Date of publication of application:
23.05.2012 Bulletin 2012/21

(73)Proprietor: General Electric Company
Schenectady, NY 12345 (US)

(72)Inventor:
  • Boomgaarden, Jonathan Carl
    Waukesha, WI Wisconsin 53188 (US)

(74)Representative: Bedford, Grant Richard 
GPO Europe GE International Inc. The Ark 201 Talgarth Road Hammersmith
London W6 8BJ
London W6 8BJ (GB)


(56)References cited: : 
WO-A1-2011/075232
US-A- 3 790 805
US-A- 5 503 416
US-A1- 2005 179 878
US-B1- 6 814 490
GB-A- 794 937
US-A- 4 887 287
US-A1- 2002 146 088
US-A1- 2008 008 290
  
      
    Note: Within nine months from the publication of the mention of the grant of the European patent, any person may give notice to the European Patent Office of opposition to the European patent granted. Notice of opposition shall be filed in a written reasoned statement. It shall not be deemed to have been filed until the opposition fee has been paid. (Art. 99(1) European Patent Convention).


    Description


    [0001] The subject matter disclosed herein relates generally to a portable X-ray imaging system and more particularly to a drive wheel suspension system for the portable X-ray imaging system.

    [0002] US 2005/0179878 relates to an imaging apparatus that may be vehicle-mounted.

    [0003] US 2008/0008290 refers to an anatomical imaging system with a centipede belt drive.

    [0004] US 5,503,416 discusses an undercarriage for X-ray diagnostic equipment.

    [0005] GB 794,937 describes a mobile radiography installation.

    [0006] In the hospital setting, mobile radiographic exams are performed on patients difficult to move or incapable of being moved. Also, in tertiary care medical centers, mobile radiographic exams represent a significant percentage of radiographic exams performed.

    [0007] To perform mobile radiographic exams, a mobile radiographic imaging system, such as a portable X-ray imaging system, may be used. Mobile radiographic imaging systems may employ rigidly attached wheels positioned to allow an operator to move the imaging system from one location to another. With rigidly attached wheels, high shock loading may occur when the imaging system is pushed between locations due to the weight of the imaging system. Likewise, high shock loading may be accompanied by loud noises, and may cause vibrations and abnormally large, sudden loads on the system components, which can damage the drive trains and wheels, as well as circuit boards and other components.

    [0008] Therefore, it may be desirable to reduce shock loading, which may result in quieter movement of the imaging system, improved operator comfort during movement, and decreased damage to the imaging system components. A portable X-ray imaging system according to the invention is defined in appended claim 1. A portable X-ray imaging system according to the preamble of claim 1 is known from US 3790805 A. Various aspects and embodiments of the present invention are defined by the appended claims.

    [0009] Various features, aspects, and advantages of the present invention will become better understood when the following detailed description is read with reference to the accompanying drawings in which like characters represent like parts throughout the drawings, wherein:

    FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a portable X-ray system in a transport position;

    FIG. 2 is a perspective view of the portable X-ray system of FIG. 1 in an imaging position;

    FIG. 3 is an underside plan view of an embodiment of the portable X-ray system of FIG. 1 with a suspension system;

    FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of an embodiment of the portable X-ray system of FIG. 3;

    FIG. 5 is an exploded side elevation view of an embodiment of the portable X-ray system of FIG. 4;

    FIG. 6 is a diagrammatical view depicting compression length changes of the suspension system of FIG. 5 when the rear wheel assembly moves from a normal position to a suspension position; and

    FIG. 7 is a diagrammatical view depicting a moment of the suspension system of FIG. 5 when the portable X-ray system is in the imaging position.



    [0010] FIG. 1 depicts a portable X-ray system 10 in a transport position. The portable X-ray system 10 includes a base unit 12 with front wheels 14 and drive rear wheels 16. The wheels 14, 16 are mounted to the base unit 12 enabling the X-ray system 10 to be moved. An operator may move the X-ray system 10 by pushing on handles that may be located on the back end of the base unit 12 over the drive rear wheels 16. In certain designs, the operator may guide the system as it moves, but need not actually push the unit, which is instead propelled by drive motors associated with the wheeled support structure. In the illustrated embodiment, the front wheels 14 are caster wheels which may swivel as the portable X-ray system 10 turns during transport. Furthermore, the front wheels 14 may be spring loaded castor wheels to provide front wheel suspension; such wheels are available commercially from Albion Incorporated of Albion, Michigan. The base unit 12 may include electronic circuitry and a power supply, such as one or more batteries. The power supply may provide power to operate the drive rear wheels 16. For example, the power supply may drive one or more motors that may be attached to the rear wheels. It may be noted that the batteries (or a separate power supply or power cable) may also serve to provide power for imaging sequences performed once the system is positioned at an imaging location (e.g., beside a bed or other patient support).

    [0011] A mast 18 is coupled to the base unit 12 and has a boom 20 extending outwardly, generally perpendicular to the mast 18. The mast 18 and/or the boom 20 may swivel on the base unit 12 to a position for radiographic exams to be performed, i.e., an imaging position. An X-ray source 22 is coupled to the boom 20 and enables the X-ray system 10 to produce X-rays needed to acquire image data during a radiographic exam. Cables may connect the X-ray source 22 to power and control circuitry located in the base unit 12. As may be appreciated, the base unit 12, mast 18, boom 20 and X-ray source 22 may create a heavy load on the wheels 14, 16. Therefore, the portable X-ray system 10, in accordance with the innovations described in this disclosure, may include a suspension system attached to the drive rear wheels 16 to reduce shock loading, vibration, and shaking that may occur when the system is being moved.

    [0012] FIG. 2 is an illustration depicting the portable X-ray system 10 of FIG. 1 in an imaging position 24. In this position, as opposed to the transport position, the mast 18 and/or the boom 20 is rotated 180 degrees from the transport position to cause the boom 20 to extend away from the X-ray system 10. The boom 20 and/or the X-ray source 22 may be adjusted toward or away from the mast 18 to properly position the X-ray source 22 over a patient. With the boom 20 and the X-ray source 22 extending away from the base unit 12, the center of gravity shifts away from the drive rear wheels 16 and toward the front wheels 14, thus decreasing the load on the drive rear wheels 16. As such, as described below, if the portable X-ray system 10 includes a suspension system attached to the drive rear wheels 16, the decreased load on the rear wheels 16 may force the suspension system against a stop, and thus provide a stable platform during imaging.

    [0013] FIG. 3 is an underside plan view of an embodiment of the portable X-ray system 10 of FIG. 1 with a suspension system. The front wheels 14 are mounted to a carriage frame 26 which includes a battery compartment 28. Also mounted to the carriage frame 26 is a rear wheel assembly 30. The wheel assembly 30 includes the drive rear wheels 16 and motors 32. The motors 32 are coupled to the drive rear wheels 16 and may drive the rear wheels in rotation to propel the X-ray system 10. The battery compartment 28 may hold one or more batteries that provide power to the motors 32.

    [0014] A suspension assembly 34 provides suspension to the portable X-ray system 10. The rear wheel assembly 30 is attached to the carriage frame 26 at pivot points 36. The pivot points 36 aid in suspension by enabling the rear wheel assembly 30 to move flexibly in relation to the carriage frame 26. Although two pivot points 36 are illustrated, fewer or more pivot points may be used based on the configuration of the portable X-ray system 10. For example, if the width of an X-ray system increases, the number of pivot points may increase.

    [0015] The suspension assembly 34 includes a spring assembly 38 attached to a tang 40 extending out of the battery compartment 28. The spring assembly 38 includes a pivoting spring rod 42 with a clevis end 44. The tang 40 is secured inside the clevis end 44 of the pivoting spring rod 42 with a pin 46, thus connecting the suspension assembly 34 to the carriage frame 26. Such an attachment allows the tang 40 latitude to move within the clevis end 44 of the pivoting spring rod 42. Other embodiments may use different linking hardware to enable flexible movement between the rear wheel assembly 30 and the carriage frame 26.

    [0016] Pivot bushings 48 with bolts 50 extending through them secure the rear wheel assembly 30 to the carriage frame 26 and create the pivot points 36. The pivot bushings 48 may be made of natural rubber, silicon rubber, or another material that enables pivoting between the rear wheel assembly 30 and the carriage frame 26. Alternatively, the pivot bushings 48 may include a combination of rubber-like or resilient material and metal. For example, the pivot bushings 48 may be fabricated center bonded mounts, available commercially from Lord Corporation of Cary, North Carolina.

    [0017] In the illustrated embodiment, the suspension assembly 34 includes a spring 52 positioned around the pivoting spring rod 42 and moved toward the clevis end 44 of the rod 42 to expose a threaded end 54. A nut 56 securely tightened over the threaded end 54 secures the spring 52 in place. The spring 52 is oriented to extend generally in a direction parallel to a horizontal plane. The spring 52 is depicted as a compression spring, however, other springs such as belleville, volute, or cantilever springs may be used in other embodiments. Furthermore, the spring 52 may be composed of stainless steel, chrome silicon, titanium, or other suitable metal.

    [0018] It should be noted that, while the present discussion describes a common or single suspension system for both rear wheels, in alternative configurations, the rear wheels may be independently or semi-independently suspended. For example, in other contemplated embodiments multiple springs may be mounted on multiple pivoting spring rods with each spring rod attached to a tang, or certain embodiments may have springs mounted on each wheel so that each wheel independently provides suspension to the X-ray system 10. As with the illustrated embodiment, such arrangements may use differently configured suspension systems as well, and that described herein should be understood as one possible configuration.

    [0019] In a transport position, the load of the X-ray system 10 may force the carriage frame 26 downward. This downward load may cause the carriage frame 26 to press against the pivot points 36 and the clevis end 44 of the pivoting spring rod 42. The rear wheel assembly 30 may pivot at the pivot points 36 by compressing the material of the pivot bushings 48. In addition, the spring 52 may be compressed between the rear wheel assembly 30 and the nut 56 as the pivoting spring rod 42 is pulled toward the carriage frame 26. When this happens the tang 40 is enabled to pivot about the clevis end 44. As the load on the carriage frame 26 increases, the spring 52 may compress more. Conversely, as the load decreases, the spring 52 may become less compressed. Furthermore, when the X-ray system is transitioned to the imaging position the suspension assembly 34 may not compress the spring 52, but instead may cause the suspension system to rest in a normal position held against a stop.

    [0020] The suspension assembly 34 may operate in a similar manner when the X-ray system 10 travels over bumps or uneven surfaces. The uneven surfaces may produce high shock loading which causes the spring 52 of the suspension assembly 34 to compress and decompress back and forth for absorption of the shock. While the suspension assembly 34 absorbs the shock, noise and X-ray system 10 vibration may decrease.

    [0021] FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view of an embodiment of the portable X-ray system 10 of FIG. 3 depicting how the carriage frame 26, rear wheel assembly 30, and suspension assembly 34 are assembled. The carriage frame 26 includes apertures 58 on a structure extending perpendicular to the battery compartment 28, as illustrated. To attach the carriage frame 26 to the rear wheel assembly 30, the apertures 58 are positioned on top of the pivot bushings 48. Bolts 50 are inserted through the pivot bushings 48 and the apertures 58, and secured with nuts to hold the carriage frame 26 to the rear wheel assembly 30.

    [0022] A cushion washer 60 is placed on the pivoting spring rod 42 near the clevis end 44 so that the cushion washer 60 rests against a portion of the rear wheel assembly 30 when assembled. The pivoting spring rod 42 is attached to the rear wheel assembly 30 by inserting it through the rear wheel assembly 30. The spring 52 slides over the pivoting spring rod 42 and the nut 56 secures the spring 52 in place. The pivoting spring rod 42 is connected to the carriage frame 26 by positioning the tang 40 within the clevis end 44 of the pivoting spring rod 42 and inserting the pin 46. The pin 46 holds the clevis end 44 of the rod 42 to the tang 40 via a nut secured to the end of the pin 46.

    [0023] The cushion washer 60 may enable the suspension assembly 34 to cushion the impact that may occur between the rear wheel assembly 30 and the pivoting spring rod 42 when the suspension assembly 34 moves against a stop, such as when the X-ray system 10 is moved from the transport position to the imaging position. The cushion washer 60 may be made of natural rubber, silicon rubber, or any other suitable material.

    [0024] Combined together, the rear wheel assembly 30, the cushion washer 60, and the clevis end 44 of the pivoting spring rod 42 may operate as the stop for the suspension assembly 34. When operating as the stop, the rear wheel assembly 30 is pressed against the cushion washer 60 which is pressed against the clevis end 44 of the pivoting spring rod 42, thus inhibiting the spring 52 from further decompression. The stop inhibits movement of the carriage frame 26 with respect to the rear wheel assembly 30. Furthermore, the suspension assembly 34 may press the pivoting spring rod 42 against the stop when the load of the portable X-ray system 10 exerts sufficiently less force on the rear wheel assembly 30, such as when the X-ray system 10 is moved to an imaging position.

    [0025] FIG. 5 is an exploded side view of an embodiment of the portable X-ray system 10 of FIG. 4 depicting how the carriage frame 26, rear wheel assembly 30, and suspension assembly 34 are assembled. As previously described in relation to FIG. 4, bolts 50 are inserted through the pivot bushings 48 and the apertures 58 while nuts attach to the bolts 50 to secure the carriage frame 26 to the rear wheel assembly 30.

    [0026] The cushion washer 60 is placed on the pivoting spring rod 42 near the clevis end 44 so that the cushion washer 60 rests against a lower extension 62 of the rear wheel assembly 30 when assembled. The pivoting spring rod 42 is attached to the rear wheel assembly 30 by inserting it through the lower extension 62. The spring 52 slides over the pivoting spring rod 42 and the nut 56 secures the spring 52 in place. Thus, the spring 52 is compressed between the nut 56 and the lower extension 62, and may be preloaded by appropriately locating the nut on the spring rod. Again, the pivoting spring rod 42 is connected to the carriage frame 26 by positioning the tang 40 within the clevis end 44 of the pivoting spring rod 42 and inserting the pin 46. The pin 46 is held in place via a nut.

    [0027] As the load on the carriage frame 26 increases, the rear wheel assembly 30 may press downward at the pivot bushings 48. The rear wheel assembly 30 may pivot at the pivot bushings 48 and the pivoting spring rod 42 may be pulled toward the carriage frame 26 which results in the nut 56 compressing the spring 52 between itself and the lower extension 62. Conversely, when the load on the carriage frame 26 decreases, downward force may be removed from the pivot bushings 48. When enough weight is removed, the suspension system may rest in a normal position where the spring 52 is decompressed as much as possible. In such a position, the lower extension 62 rests against the cushion washer 60, which acts as a stop (or it may be said that the lower extension 62 acts as a stop for the spring rod).. The suspension system may operate in a similar manner when the rear wheel assembly 30 travels over bumps or uneven surfaces. For example, uneven surfaces may cause a quick shock that the suspension system absorbs through compression and decompression of the spring 52.

    [0028] FIG. 6 is a kinematic diagram depicting compression length changes (somewhat exaggerated) of the suspension system of FIG. 5 when the rear wheel assembly moves from a normal position 64 to a suspension position 66. The rear wheel assembly begins at the normal position 64, then as the assembly pivots and the spring compresses, the rear wheel assembly moves upward to a suspension position 66 (or it may be said that the base unit moves downwardly). Such an upward movement may occur as the portable X-ray system moves over bumps or objects in its path and the suspension system compresses its spring to compensate for these bumps.

    [0029] As illustrated, in the normal position 66, the spring has a spring length l, as indicated by reference numeral 68. The distance from the end of the spring to the stop is denoted as abutment-to-pin length L, as also indicated by reference numeral 70. Alternatively, in the suspension position 66 the compressed spring has a shorter, compressed length l', as indicated by reference numeral 72. The compressed abutment-to-pin length is then L', as indicated by reference numeral 74. As may be appreciated, the combined length of the spring length l and the abutment-to-pin length L will be equal to the combined length of compressed spring length l' and the compressed abutment-to-pin length L'.

    [0030] FIG. 7 is a view depicting a moment 76 of the suspension system of FIG. 5 when the portable X-ray system is in the imaging position. With the moment 76, a force 78 is exerted pressing the pivoting spring rod toward the lower extension of the rear wheel assembly, holding it firmly in place while imaging takes place. In other words, the suspension system is forced against the stop, thereby providing a stable position.

    [0031] This written description uses examples to disclose the invention, including the preferred mode, and also to enable any person skilled in the art to practice the invention, including making and using any devices or systems and performing any incorporated methods. The patentable scope of the invention is defined by the claims, and may include other examples that occur to those skilled in the art.


    Claims

    1. A portable X-ray imaging system (10), comprising:

    a base unit (12) having a carriage frame (26), wherein the base unit (12) supports an X-ray source (22), and wherein the X-ray source (22) is moveable between a transport position and an imaging position;

    at least one front wheel (14) mounted to the carriage frame (26);

    a rear wheel assembly (30) mounted to the carriage frame (26), the rear wheel assembly (30) comprising a pair of rear wheels (16) and at least one battery driven drive motor (32) for driving the rear wheels (16) in rotation to propel the base unit (12);

    a pivot coupling between the carriage frame (26) and the rear wheel assembly (30); and

    a suspension system (34) coupled to the carriage frame (26) and the rear wheel assembly (30) and configured to permit flexible movement of the carriage frame (26) and the rear wheel assembly (30) with respect to one another; characterised in that the X-ray source (22) being in the imaging position causes a decreased load to be exerted on the carriage frame (26) compared to the X-ray source (22) being in the transport position;

    the pivot coupling is configured to yield to relative movement of the carriage frame (26) and the rear wheel assembly (30) when the load on the carriage frame (26) decreases or increases;

    the suspension system (34) comprises a spring (52) arranged to be transitioned, by the relative movement of the carriage frame (26) and the rear wheel assembly (30), between a relatively uncompressed state when there is a decreased load on the carriage frame (26) and a relatively compressed state when there is an increased load on the carriage frame (26); and

    in its uncompressed state, the spring (52) rests against a stop thereby limiting movement of the carriage frame (26) with respect to the rear wheel assembly (30).


     
    2. The system (10) of claim 1, comprising at least one cushion element configured to cushion impact when movement of the carriage frame (26) with respect to the rear wheel assembly (30) is limited via the stop.
     


    Ansprüche

    1. Tragbares Röntgenbildgebungssystem (10), umfassend:

    eine Grundeinheit (12), die einen Transportrahmen (26) hat, wobei die Grundeinheit (12) eine Röntgenquelle (22) trägt und wobei die Röntgenquelle (22) beweglich zwischen einer Transportposition und einer Bilderzeugungsposition ist;

    mindestens ein Vorderrad (14), das am Transportrahmen (26) befestigt ist;

    eine Hinterradgruppe (30), die am Transportrahmen (26) befestigt ist, wobei die Hinterradgruppe (30) ein Paar von Hinterrädern (16) und mindestens einen batteriebetriebenen Antriebsmotor (32) zum Versetzen der Hinterräder (16) in Rotation umfasst, um die Grundeinheit (12) anzutreiben;

    eine Schwenkverbindung zwischen dem Transportrahmen (26) und der Hinterradgruppe (30); und

    ein Aufhängungssystem (34), das mit dem Transportrahmen (26) und der Hinterradgruppe (30) verbunden ist und dafür ausgelegt ist, dem Transportrahmen (26) und der Hinterradgruppe (30) in Bezug auf aufeinander eine flexible Bewegung zu ermöglichen; dadurch gekennzeichnet, dass

    die Röntgenquelle (22), die in der Bilderzeugungsposition ist, eine verringerte Last bewirkt, auf den Transportrahmen (26) ausgeübt werden soll, im Vergleich zur Röntgenquelle (22), die in der Transportposition ist;

    die Schwenkverbindung eignet sich dazu, eine Relativbewegung des Transportrahmens (26) und der Hinterradgruppe (30) zu erreichen, wenn die Last auf dem Transportrahmen (26) sich verringert oder erhöht;

    das Aufhängungssystem (34) umfasst eine Feder (52), die dafür ausgelegt ist, sich durch die Relativbewegung des Transportrahmens (26) und der Hinterradgruppe (30) zu wandeln zwischen einem relativ unkomprimierten Zustand, wenn eine verringerte Last auf demTransportrahmen (26) ruht, und einem relativ komprimierten Zustand, wenn eine erhöhte Last auf dem Transportrahmen (26) liegt; und

    in ihrem unkomprimierten Zustand drückt die Feder (52) gegen einen Anschlag, wodurch die Bewegung des Transportrahmens (26) relativ zur Hinterradgruppe (30) gegrenzt wird.


     
    2. System (10) nach Anspruch 1, das mindestens ein Polsterelement umfasst, das dafür ausgelegt ist, Stöße abzufedern, wenn die Bewegung des Transportrahmens(26) gegenüber der Hinterradgruppe (30) über den Anschlag begrenzt wird.
     


    Revendications

    1. Système d'imagerie à rayons X portable (10) comprenant :

    une unité de base (12) ayant un châssis de chariot (26), dans lequel l'unité de base (12) supporte une source de rayons X (22) et dans lequel la source de rayons X (22) est mobile entre une position de transport et une position d'imagerie ;

    au moins une roue avant (14) montée sur le châssis de chariot (26) ;

    un ensemble de roues arrière (30) monté sur le châssis de chariot (26), l'ensemble de roues arrière (30) comprenant une paire de roues arrière (16) et au moins un moteur d'entraînement (32) à accumulateurs pour entraîner les roues arrière (16) en rotation pour propulser l'unité de base (12) ;

    un couplage à pivot entre le châssis de chariot (26) et l'ensemble de roues arrière (30) ; et

    un système de suspension (34) couplé au châssis de chariot (26) et à l'ensemble de roues arrière (30) et configuré pour permettre un mouvement souple du châssis de chariot (26) et de l'ensemble de roues arrière (30) l'un par rapport à l'autre ; caractérisé en ce que :

    la source de rayons X (22) qui est en position d'imagerie provoque l'exercice d'une charge réduite sur le châssis de chariot (26) en comparaison de la source de rayons X (22) qui se trouve en position de transport ;

    le couplage à pivot est configuré pour céder au mouvement relatif du châssis de chariot (26) et de l'ensemble de roues arrière (30) lorsque la charge sur le châssis de chariot (26) diminue ou augmente ;

    le système de suspension (34) comprend un ressort (52) agencé pour passer, du fait du mouvement relatif du châssis de chariot (26) et de l'ensemble de roues arrière (30), entre un état relativement non comprimé lorsqu'il y a une charge réduite sur le châssis de chariot (26) et un état relativement comprimé lorsqu'il y a une charge accrue sur le châssis de chariot (26) ; et

    dans son état non comprimé, le ressort (52) repose contre un arrêt en limitant de la sorte le mouvement du châssis de chariot (26) par rapport à l'ensemble de roues arrière (30).


     
    2. Système (10) selon la revendication 1, comprenant au moins un élément d'amortissement configuré pour amortir l'impact lorsque le mouvement du châssis de chariot (26) par rapport à l'ensemble de roues arrière (30) est limité par l'arrêt.
     




    Drawing















    REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



    This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

    Patent documents cited in the description