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Tube arcing occurs when there is a short-circuit within the tube, typically from the cathode to the tube envelope. The result is a temporary loss of x-ray output and a localized artifact.
A number of causes of tube arcing are recognized 1:
- insulator surface flashover
- insulator breakdown
- vacuum flashover
- most common
- due to particulate impurities or gas within the tube
- new tubes are more prone to this problem due to residual gas
A small amount of tube arching is not uncommon and modern scanners have automated processes to remove the artifact from the final images 1,2.