Defining Parameters: The Formula for a Great Display

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Planar Dome E3cIn the last decade, the medical display market has seen a host of new solutions beginning with the transition from CRT systems to flat-panel monitors and, more recently, the introduction of high-resolution color display systems such as Planar’s Dome E4c, the first 4 megapixel 30-inch monitor. Remote management systems that simplify QA, calibration, and management have carved a healthy niche in the healthcare market, too.

The right diplays can boost reading efficiency and workflow, which, in turn, aids turnaround time and workflow and increases revenue. Making the right display choice hinges on understanding the subtle and not-so-subtle differences between systems and vendors. Other key concepts to contemplate include how radiology came to accept current display configurations and how display configurations will evolve in the next several years.

Displays: A Bright Future
The diagnostic display market is crossing the high-resolution color threshold, and healthcare is re-evaluating its options and solutions. At the same time, the current market provides an excellent vantage point to consider the future of the display world, beginning with the near-time available solutions and progressing into newer models in much earlier stages of research and development.


The current radiology practice faces a trio of factors that play a key role in display decisions. For starters, the 21st century radiology department operates more higher resolution image capture devices than its predecessors. Optimizing the display of images captured on these devices ranks high on the priority list. What’s more, the PACS market has matured; more historical images are online and available for digital comparison. Radiologists can optimize viewing of multiple data sets and increase reading efficiency with more real estate, i.e. larger display systems. Finally, the widespread adoption of multidetector CT has fueled the 3D market. 3D has become an essential tool in many radiology departments. PACS vendors have embraced 3D and integrated 3D functionality into PACS, which changes the use of color as 3D requires color.

As hospitals and imaging centers weigh these factors and consider their financial restraints, they need to re-evaluate the medical display configuration.

Key questions to ask include:

  • What are the disadvantages of the standard display configuration?
  • What are the needs for color and grayscale image review?
  • How do hanging protocols impact efficiency?
  • How could an alternate configuration improve efficiency and image review?

Planar’s roadmap for the future holds numerous benefits for healthcare. For starters, the company’s new Dome E4c display system enables users to leverage a larger form factor for reading more images with high-resolution grayscale in a color monitor. “The Dome E4c offers a flexible solution with the right mix of total pixels, calibrated color and grayscale functionality and the medical specifications sought after in radiology departments. It can be used as a standalone diagnostic display or in tandem with high-resolution grayscale displays,” says Patrick Herguth, vice president of Planar Systems. “We are seeing a need to evolve beyond the standard dual 3 MP display configuration and we feel that the Dome E4c can be a central part of that evolution.”

Looking to the future, several factors come into play. A basic limitation that exists in the Microsoft operating system today is the fact that image data can only be pushed to the display as 8 bit images. Today the work-around for this is using window and level tools to see the full 10, 12 or 14 bits of data that were captured at the modality.  One of the exciting features of the forthcoming Vista operating system is the ability to push the full image data set, up to 14 bits of data per pixel, all the way to the display and within the standard functionality of the operating system. “Vista will enable our Dome displays to be used to their full potential. Our displays today have the ability to show up to at least 1024 calibrated gray shade levels, the challenge has been getting that much data to the display given the limitations of Windows,” says Herguth. “We believe that giving the radiologist more calibrated gray shade levels will help improve efficiency by eliminating some of the window and level manipulation and hopefully provide a clinical benefit as well.”

The market is muddled with claims of gray shade levels, palettes, and how many bits a display can handle.  The key numbers