Looking at PACS workstations: medical vs. consumer

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“The trickiest part of the PACS workstation is the displays,” commenced David Hirschorn, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital, during a Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (formerly SCAR) scientific session focused on reading room and image distribution.

Hirschorn spoke to audience members about an ongoing study that is comparing the performance of consumer grade displays to medical grade displays for the primary interpretation of radiography, specifically 3 mega-pixel (MP) grayscale flat panel (FP) displays to consumer-grade color 2.3 MP FP displays.
   
With PACS came specialized grayscale CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors for the task of adequately portraying the dynamic grayscale range of digital radiographs. As the industry shifts to medical-grade LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors, which are very bright but very expensive, the cost of PACS workstations has significantly increased.
   
Although medical grade displays costing $13,000 per pair have a little higher resolution and luminance than high-end consumer-grade displays costing $2,000 per pair, it is unclear if this diminishing distinction is of diagnostic consequence, Hirschorn posed.
   
If there appears to be no difference in diagnostic accuracy for radiography images between consumer grade color FP displays and their medical-grade counterparts, then the cost of PACS workstations could be reduced, discussed Hirschorn. However, the remainder of Hirschorn’s discussion focused on the use of consumer-grade displays for clinical review.
   
“The bottom line is that we do not believe there is a significant clinical difference between the two types of displays,” Hirschorn said. “Perhaps consumer grade displays can be deployed for clinical review of radiography images in areas such as the ER and ICU.”