With high-resolution, medical-grade color monitors growing in prominence, you’ll feel like you’ve been carried off to the radiology Land of Oz. When it comes to displays, you’re not stuck in grayscale Kansas anymore.
For most of the history of color displays, they have not offered the resolution or brightness for reading diagnostic images. But that’s all changed with high-quality color medical-grade displays now available — and quickly growing in popularity. A type of ideal is possible: A radiology department can install grayscale and color monitors so that, case by case, the best monitor for the image can be used. Some facilities are taking their investment in color displays even further, investing solely in color.
This is especially true for organizations looking for a single-monitor — grayscale or color — solution. “It makes much more sense to just go with a medical-grade color monitor rather than a grayscale monitor because now you can read literally everything off those color displays,” says Jim Busch, MD, radiologist, director of Specialty Networks, Diagnostic Radiology Consultants, a private practice radiology group in Chattanooga, Tenn., that services Tennessee and Georgia. “That way you can maximize your efficiency and flexibility across your practice by reading anything from anywhere,” says Busch.
Although 2 megapixel (MP) monitors generally suffice, some images must be read on 3 MP monitors — for example, bone radiography. Moreover, the attraction of state-of-the-art 3 MP color monitors is clearly strong for some facilities, especially those that have not made huge investments in grayscale.
One monitor fits all
The Radiology Department at Georgetown University Hospital (GUH) in Washington, D.C., has opted to use both top-of-the-line grayscale and color displays at dedicated PACS workstations. Although the department has drawn clear lines between the two types of workstations in some ways, the advances in color monitors have significantly blurred them.
A prime example of increased flexibility in image viewing is how radiologists use the Barco Coronis Color 3MP displays to interpret studies from a variety of modalities such as conventional radiography, CT, MR, ultrasound and PET/CT. Another example is reading myelograms. The 3 MP color displays allow the radiologists to read the radiographic portion of the myelogram — a combined static image-fluoroscopy exam looking at the spinal cord and nerve roots — on the same workstation used to read the accompanying CT portion of the exam.
“A radiologist can read the CT portion of the myelogram and on the same monitor read the fluoroscopic portion. That’s very convenient,” says Carlos Jamis-Dow, director of imaging technology at GUH.
A similar situation arises when reading renal ultrasounds and abdominal x-rays of patients with renal calculi. “We can read the ultrasound images in color and are able to interpret the radiographic examinations of the abdomen because of the 3 MP resolution and brightness of the color displays,” says Jamis-Dow.
The same advantage exists when viewing a patient’s prior images. “I can read studies from any modality on any PACS workstation throughout the department. In nuclear medicine we can review the full-color fused PET/CT images and in the same workstation review at full resolution the patient’s abnormal chest x-ray that prompted the PET/CT,” says Jamis-Dow.
“We purposefully chose this next generation of Barco monitors because they were the first medical displays on the market to offer 3 MP resolution and brightness equal to that of diagnostic grayscale displays.”
All of this flexibility also has improved their workflow. Any of their subspecialist radiologists using several diagnostic modalities can dictate any type of study in any of the department’s reading rooms, Jamis-Dow says.
All color, all the time
Radiology departments planning to standardize on 3 MP color displays should prepare to be patient because the technology is so new that not all PACS work with every model — yet. But with some determination, it’s possible. Norton Healthcare, which services Kentucky and Southern Indiana with a network of five hospitals in Kentucky, proved its diligence in marrying its new McKesson Horizon Medical Imaging PACS with Planar 3MP color displays, one of the first to do so. They also had to tie in to IBM workstations throughout the Norton facilities. The department went digital this past summer in a big way. Over a 90-day period ending in June,