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Currently under development at Finland's University of Oulu, the prototype portable X-ray machine measures just 50 by 50 by 130 cm (19.7 by 19.7 by 51.2 in).
Not only is it much smaller than conventional X-ray systems, but because it incorporates built-in radiation shielding, it doesn't have to kept in a lead-lined room, nor does it have to be operated from a separate area. In fact, it utilizes a video screen to guide patients through the process, showing them how and where to place the injured appendage. It then automatically takes the X-rays, and tells the user if a break is detected.
Its instructions – and its imaging voltage – are currently set up for X-raying bones in the palm and ankle. More regions will be added as the system is developed further.
The idea behind the technology is that the relatively inexpensive machines could be set up at locations such as ski resorts or medical clinics, where patients could self-check their injuries to see if a bone was indeed broken. This would reduce the demands placed on larger, pricier, more sophisticated X-ray systems (and their operators), increasing their availability for more important tasks.