Study: Inexpensive Dell monitor works for radiography

December 1, 2006

A consumer-grade monitor made by Dell Computers may be sufficient for interpreting radiography images, one of radiology's most demanding applications, according to a presentation at the RSNA meeting on Thursday.

A consumer-grade monitor made by Dell Computers may be sufficient for interpreting radiography images, one of radiology's most demanding applications, according to a presentation at the RSNA meeting on Thursday.

The Dell 2405 color monitor is as bright as medical-grade monitors but costs 10 times less, said Dr. David Hirschorn, who researched the monitor at Massachusetts General Hospital. It is gradually finding its way into radiology as an alternative to more expensive medical monitors, he added.

Previous research studies by Hirschorn concluded that consumer-grade LCD monitors are sufficient for reviewing "small matrix" ultrasound, CT, and MR images. But the subtle findings on "large matrix" radiography are more visually demanding and pose an additional challenge. Radiography images represent about 70% of imaging's workload.

The Dell monitor is set for a lower brightness right out of the box but can be made brighter for watching DVD's from a greater distance than is commonly used in workstation computing, Hirschorn said.

To test whether the Dell monitor would be suitable for radiography, the researchers selected 121 radiography exams; 30 of which previously interpreted as normal and 93 as abnormal. The abnormal images were chosen for subtle positive findings.

All of the studies were reviewed by two board certified radiologists on a pair of Dell 2405 displays first, and the findings recorded with conspicuity grades for each exam. One month later the same exams were reviewed in random order by the same radiologists on a pair of 3 megapixel gray-scale medical-grade monitors. Both displays were calibrated to the DICOM standard.

The results: The medical grade and the Dell consumer monitors produced the same findings in 117 of 121 cases. Two fractures and one kidney stone were seen on the gray-scale monitors but not seen on the Dell 2405s. In 11 cases other findings that were seen on the Dell 2405s were not seen on the grayscales. The differences were not of statistical clinical significance.

"These results don't prove that you can use this display, but there is a good chance to believe this is probably reasonable," Hirschorn said. "In practice a lot of radiologists use this setup and are comfortable using this system for primary interpretation of radiography."