iPad 3 holds up as display option for radiology certification exams

The iPad 3 was found to be as effective in image display as LED monitors, suggesting it could serve as a display option for American Board of Radiology (ABR), according to a study published this month in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

“Running imaging-based examinations in distributed locations with large volumes of candidates raises many challenges,” wrote Rachel J. Toomey, of the School of Medicine and Medical Science at University College Dublin, and colleagues. “Displays must be of comparable quality for all candidates to ensure equitable examinations; however, this can be difficult to achieve across multiple testing centers, and transporting sufficient volumes of standardized displays is impracticable.”

The study aimed to determine whether the iPad 3’s display was suitable enough for use in ABR certification examinations and how they stacked up against standard monitors currently in use.

For the study, a set of 20 cases from nine of the 10 radiological specialties identified by the ABR was prepared and each set had between one and seven images that had been used in previous ABR certification exams.

Volunteers included 114 examining radiologists who reviewed cases from a single specialty and five in two or more specialties—resulting in 124 matched readings on two devices.

The results found that image-feature visibility was significantly higher for the iPad compared with the monitor across all cases and participants as a whole. The iPad also rated significantly higher in four of the nine specialties represented, including breast, gastrointestinal, genitourinary and nuclear medicine.

“The results of the study indicate a strong acceptance of the iPad 3 as a potential display device for use in ABR examinations, which may, with appropriate precautions, facilitate easier dissemination and greater standardization of display for candidates,” study authors wrote.

Further, the team found that changes in the format in which some images are displayed may improve acceptance further and future investigation of other factors that may influence examination performance (like ergonomic factors) would be beneficial.