Radiology room requirements

Radiology Room Requirements for Medical Imaging

Reading Time: 7 minutes read

Balancing patient populations with changes in procedures and equipment.

By Rick Perez, Administrative Director, Winthrop University Hospital’s Department.

Radiology room requirements are a paradox. Imaging rooms require solid construction to support 1,000 pound overhead tube cranes as well as lead linings to contain x-ray scatter. Yet they must be somewhat fluid to accommodate advances in imaging technology and new procedures that have a host of associated equipment.

Winthrop University Hospital is a 591-bed university-affiliated medical center that offers sophisticated diagnostic and therapeutic care in virtually every specialty and subspecialty of medicine and surgery. Located in Mineola, NY, we offer a full complement of inpatient and outpatient services.

To meet our population’s imaging needs, we have two fluoroscopy rooms, a general imaging room, and two imaging rooms for our emergency department. In addition, we have a CT, MRI, and ultrasound system.

Radiology room requirements

Imaging for the inpatient side of operations is especially complicated. Rooms need to be large enough to handle the critical care patients who come down for special exams. These patients might need anesthesia and special gases. They might be tethered to ventilators and multiple pumps. Doctors and other attending care professionals need easy access to kits, implants and other devices, and patient monitoring pumps.

Next, you need to factor in the number of staff members which can include MDs, physician assistants, and residents if you are a teaching facility like ours. A neuro procedure, for example, could require 10 people in the room. So ample size, room to maneuver, and strategic placement of devices is paramount for inpatient medical imaging.

OR, IR, and ED have special rad room requirements, too

Post-op patients coming directly from the OR have their own special protocols. For example, bariatric patients require equipment to check for leaks and blockages. Their advanced weight and limitation of movement – even prior to surgery – also have an impact on rad rooms and equipment.

Some manufacturers have x-ray tables that can accommodate patients up to 705 lbs  without losing important functionality such as table top movement. For our CT scanner, we swap out our existing table for a wider and heavier one to accommodate larger patients, but of course this impacts space and movement in the room.

Interventional procedures are on the rise and they also have their own set of radiology room requirements. Not a day goes by when we are not doing draining or performing a biopsy. These procedures require numerous line placements and ideally a room with a CT in it so patients don’t have to be moved from one room to the next. Rotating tables make the move within the room easier, too.

Of course, we also have to consider room lighting and temperature. And we try to accommodate the preferences of our doctors, such as which side of the table they like to work from, when possible.

Imaging for the ED has its own challenges. Like other hospitals, it needs to support a lot of traffic 24/7. It requires counters and tables that can take a lot of abuse without showing it. We also make sure the room can be easily and quickly cleaned. For ED and trauma, you want as large a room as possible to accommodate stretchers and beds. And a critical patient will require multiple doctors, nurses, respiratory and other staff.

Imaging equipment drives room requirements

Some room changes are driven by aging imaging equipment. Your equipment might be functioning but it’s too old to accommodate the newest technologies that can help reduce dose. Or you’re having trouble finding replacement parts.

With analog equipment, it was possible to retain the same equipment for a longer period of time. But the lifespan of digital systems are limited by the computer software and components that can be obsolete in just a few years.

Also, digital flat panel detectors have evolved rapidly impacting equipment design over the past 10 years. For example, older fixed detectors were large and required significant space within the X-ray table. Today’s modern cassette-sized detectors fit within existing bucky trays and pave the way for upgrading from analog to DR.

I expect that advancements will be made soon in the ways we capture and store dose information for patients and technologists. How this will be accomplished is still a question, but I expect that it will be driven in part by new regulations.

While we’re on the topic of equipment, I have recommendations for mobile equipment, too. Make sure your portables are easy to use and move. They need to be agile enough to navigate halls, patient rooms, and ICUs with their array of patient support devices and pumps in use.

Of course, the hardest and most expensive upgrade is one that involves room construction, which we try to avoid if at all possible. Instead we ask questions like, “what can we do if we don’t move the table?” and, “is there a way to replace tables and control panels?” – anything to minimize construction.

Right now we are working with Carestream to replace the imaging rooms in our emergency department. It’s a tough challenge. We’ve got columns in the way, and techs can only enter from the rooms, not from the corridor. Construction of imaging rooms can be a challenge since many times we interrupt services below due to work on structural support, plumbing, and electricity.

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Radiology room requirements: starting point

I’ve learned quite a lot about radiology room requirements during my 30-plus years as a radiology administrator. Here are the questions I always start with before designing or modifying an imaging room:

  1. Who are our customers? Will they be adults, pediatrics, bariatrics, others? Then we design the room to meet their particular needs.
  2. Can we design a room that can accommodate the universal population and multiple operations? This is the ideal approach for designing for the long term – and also the most difficult.
  3.  What type of interventional procedures will we need to do in the room? Will there be a need for anesthesia? Will we need oxygen and suction placement? What about transfers to and from tables?
  4. What other special requirements, like long-length imaging, do we need to support?

My last piece of advice is to involve your imaging equipment vendor. They have a lot of experience designing radiology rooms. They understand cabling paths, control booth requirements, and other factors you might overlook. Or they might have an option that doesn’t require a total equipment swap.

Of course, the imaging equipment itself has its own set of requirements. Read the blog on 9 questions to answer before you make any purchasing decisions on radiology equipment.

What are your suggestions for room design? I’d like to hear them.

Enrico Perez

Rick Perez, has served as the Administrative Director of Winthrop University Hospital’s Department of Radiology since 2003. He oversees 253 full-time employees and 31 radiologists while managing a $27 million budget. The hospital and its affiliated sites conduct 265,000 procedures a year. Mr. Perez is a member of Carestream’s advisory board. #radiology

Learn More: 

Read the blog by North Colorado Medical Center on X-ray Room Equipment Evaluation and Planning

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    I never thought about how intensive the planning process must be when setting up an imaging room in a hospital or medical facility. Even just choosing the right equipment sounds complicated. I’m impressed that your facility even has tables that can support 700+ lbs. Now that is some smart planning! Depending on the imaging equipment, the material you use is probably also important. You need to plan ahead for that too.

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      Thank you for your comments and for reading Everything Rad!

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    Imaging Central

    The art of applying medical imaging requires high-technology equipment, tremendous care and patience, and a unique sensitivity. Infrastructure systems designed by engineers must be carefully coordinated with architectural design. Because medical technology is changing at an increasingly rapid rate, the need for flexibility in every aspect of design becomes more crucial.

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    evelen faustin

    Is it necessary to have an emergency pull string in an exam room, in case the tech needs help with a patient?

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      Emergency call buttons are recommended especially when techs can be alone with a patient and require assistance. They usually tie back to a central terminal, so that area must be manned during operational hours. In many emergency room departments this is tied back to the main ED nursing station since the patient are ED patients.

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    Your post was extremely helpful and very interesting. I’m assisting a client calculate projected costs and initial plans for their new imaging center. Do you have any resources you recommend for current room, hallway, equipment requirements, etc.

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      I’m glad you found the article informative. I’m afraid I don’t have general resources to send you. If your client has Carestream equipment, they can contact their representative who could likely provide some insight.

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    Sou técnica e bacharel em radiologia. Procuro emprego em Madrid Meu email: Gracias

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    Thank for your post sharing with us. Really it’s a very helpful post. Hope everybody will be benefited from your post.

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    Dr. Sanjay Sharma

    All equipment and dedicated rooms should always be provided in medical centers. Thanks for the informative post. Visit:

  • reply

    Dr. Sahil Malik

    Nice article, thanks!

    • reply

      Kathleen Remis

      Thank you for reading and commenting!

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    Sherwood Potolsky

    I agree with you

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    Giordy Gullone

    Hi, i want to know something. Can a CT room be side by side with an X Ray room with their respective wall grith and shielding?

    • reply

      Kathleen Remis

      Hello, we recommend that you discuss this with your medical physicist. Additionally, all X-ray shielding needs to meet the regulations in your region. Thank you for reading and commenting on our blog!

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    Nadia Marrin

    Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this site? I’m getting fed up of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

    • reply

      Kathleen Remis

      Hello, we use WordPress.


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