Monitor shows intense detail, but value to radiology remains unclear

July 9, 2001

A computer screen that displays a dozen times more detail than current monitors has been announced. Developed by IBM Research, the new flat panel crams 9.2 million pixels into an 18.8-inch x 11.8-inch (22-inch diagonal) viewing area, enabling

A computer screen that displays a dozen times more detail than current monitors has been announced.

Developed by IBM Research, the new flat panel crams 9.2 million pixels into an 18.8-inch x 11.8-inch (22-inch diagonal) viewing area, enabling ultrahigh-quality imaging for medicine, science, engineering, and other vision-critical applications.

IBM claims the monitor, called the T220, now has the highest resolution of any computer screen in the world. Using 200 pixels per inch, the T220 monitor displays electronic images with a degree of detail not previously possible.

Radiologists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, are among those who have previewed the device.

"It's quite impressive," said Dr. Bradley Erickson, a diagnostic radiologist at Mayo. "It's bright like other LCDs (liquid crystal displays), but the density of the pixels was what we found stunning."

While the current resolution of volumetric radiological data is not high enough to warrant use of such a display for standard applications, the T220 screen may permit otherwise impossible complex visualization environments, such as the combination of multiple views of 3-D and 2-D data on one screen, said Dr. Jonathan Silverstein, codirector of the Virtual Reality in Medicine Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

"The issue of what is required to run this monitor in terms of computing infrastructure is also important," Silverstein said. "High-end graphics machine programming is still generally limited to just a few individuals."

It remains to be seen whether the new monitor will be useful in specialty areas such as soft-copy mammography.

"It sounds exciting, but there's too little information to tell how it might impact digital mammography," said Dr. John M. Lewin, an assistant professor of radiology at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. "The largest digital mammography images are 8 MB, so they could be displayed on this monitor at full resolution."

Questions mammographers should ask, according to Erickson:

?How is bright the monitor?
?How long will it last?
?How much will it cost?
?How good is its contrast resolution in gray scale.


"The T220 is presumably a color monitor, and we work in a gray-scale world," Lewin said.

The T220 is marketed to specific industries, medicine included, in limited quantities at $22,000 each. The price may drop when the T220 goes into full-scale production, scheduled for the third quarter of 2001.

"It's pricey, but so were 'regular' LCDs when they first appeared," Erickson said. "If T220 prices fall - perhaps through competition - I think that it will provide a compelling advantage over CRTs."