iPhone displays excellent image quality for stroke patients

November 29, 2010
Rebekah Moan

The iPhone has excellent image quality and allows for accurate interpretation of telestroke cases, according to a study presented Monday at the RSNA 2010 meeting. The major pitfalls of using the mobile device have to do with time: the download speed is slow and so is the time it takes to interpret the image.

The iPhone has excellent image quality and allows for accurate interpretation of telestroke cases, according to a study presented Monday at the RSNA 2010 meeting. The major pitfalls of using the mobile device have to do with time: the download speed is slow and so is the time it takes to interpret the image. 

iPhones and other mobile devices are quickly working their way into radiologists’ toolkits. As they do, it becomes increasingly important to determine the devices’ utility.

In the current study, Dr. Supriya Gupta, a research fellow in radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and colleagues compared the iPhone app Merge eFilm with a PACS workstation for CT telestroke cases. The image quality was found to be excellent, ranking either a 4 or 5 out 5 by two stroke experts. Sensitivity, however, was lacking. The researchers determined the sensitivity to be 70% and specificity 100%.

“There is a need for better software,” Gupta said. “In normal cases, the iPhone showed normal. But when there was stroke present, [the device] did not pick it up in three cases. So yes, the sensitivity is low for picking up the hemorrhage.”

The iPhone also didn’t fare well in download speed. Download speed for the PACS was less than one minute, whereas for the iPhone it was 7.64 minutes. However, that may have more to do with the network the images are downloaded on than the device itself, Gupta said.

The time to interpret on PACS was 2.34 minutes whereas on the iPhone it was 6.44 minutes. That could be because it takes training and practice to use the iPhone, to set window levels and such, she said.

Next up will be developing software for the iPad.

“When we started the study, people told me they wanted to see it on the iPad,” Gupta said. “But at that time the iPad was not available. It came out in April and the RSNA abstract submission [deadline] was in April.”