Wireless PDAs may prove useful for image interpretation

September 23, 2004

Wireless PDAs could play a major role in remote image consultation and patient management, according to researchers at the Northwestern University-Feinberg School of Medicine. Although PDAs haven't made much of a splash in radiology departments so far, study results suggest they could be used for image interpretation.

Wireless PDAs could play a major role in remote image consultation and patient management, according to researchers at the Northwestern University-Feinberg School of Medicine. Although PDAs haven't made much of a splash in radiology departments so far, study results suggest they could be used for image interpretation.

The validity of using PDAs for image interpretation was explored in a preliminary study published last year (Emerg Radiol 2003;10(2):87-89). A follow-up paper further examining the use of wireless technology for remote consultation is scheduled to appear in Academic Radiology later this year.

"Our first study showed that significant decisions can be made based on images displayed on a PDA," said Dr. Yahid Yaghmai, assistant professor of radiology at the Northwestern-Feinberg.

Both papers analyzed the utility of PDAs for neurosurgical consultation.

"To date, PDAs have not been embraced by radiologists, although I believe the future will be quite different," Yaghmai said.

One reason for radiologist reluctance is that no vendor presently provides an all-in-one PDA package equipped with teleradiology capability, an issue to be discussed in the pending follow-up paper. Yaghmai predicts this will also change in the near future.

There is significant potential for the use of PDAs for image interpretation, he said.

"The emphasis has been on displaying images for review," he said. "We are now at a stage where images can be used for diagnosis, and the emphasis should be on practical image transfer to PDAs and improvement of image quality."

The 2003 study assessed the feasibility of using PDAs as a medium for the interpretation of CT trauma scans.

Twenty-one noncontrast cranial CT scans were transferred in their entirety from PACS to a PDA. All images were separately reviewed by a radiologist and a neurosurgeon, then graded for their quality and diagnostic utility. The accuracy rate for both physicians was 95%. Sensitivity and specificity for detection of intracranial hemorrhage were 93% and 100%, respectively.

Image quality was judged to be excellent in 90% of the cases and very good in the remaining 10%.

"Our results suggest that the PDA is a robust medium for interpretation of CT scans in patients with suspected hemorrhage following intracranial injury," Yaghmai said.

In this setting, the PDA can be considered for teleradiology purposes, he said.