How to Reduce Fatigue While Reading Radiology Images

Better lighting in the radiology reading room, the right monitors and wearing contacts instead of glasses may help reduce fatigue while reading images.

Radiologists might avoid fatigue while reading images by increasing ambient lighting, using the right type of monitor, and wearing contact lenses instead of glasses, according to a study published in the journal Academic Radiology.

Researchers from Kyushu University in Japan analyzed the dominant factors affecting fatigue among radiologists during soft-copy reading. The researchers evaluated two types of fatigue: that of the central nervous system (CNS) and subjective visual fatigue. Seventeen male radiologists, average age 39.5, participated in the study. Thirteen needed corrective lenses for image reading: 10 wore glasses, three wore contact lenses.

According to the researchers, reading-induced fatigue was assumed to be affected by 20 hypothetical factors associated with personal characteristics, time required for reading, content or amount of reading, and the reading environment.

The radiologists were asked to read in four sessions, two mornings and two afternoons over the course of four days. Overall reading time ranged from 1.42 hours to 5 hours for a single test section, mean 2.99 hours. The radiologists were evaluated before and after the reading sessions with a critical fusion frequency test and a Simulator Sickness questionnaire. They were also divided by specialty, with neurologic, thoracic, and abdominal radiologists reading plain radiographs and nuclear medicine radiologists reading FDG-PET/CT, SPECT/CT and scintigraphy examinations.

The researchers found that fatigue in the CNS decreased with a higher corrected visual acuity and a higher ambient illuminance in the reading room. The type of monitor used also played a role in the level of fatigue. Visual fatigue was relieved when there was a larger difference in the brightness of the monitor. However, since only two types of LCD monitors were used, the researchers could not comment on specific monitor characteristics and their effect on fatigue. It was also found that fatigue when glasses were worn rather than contact lenses.

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