Workstation selection involves more than meets the eye

March 5, 2007

Resolution and luminance are not the only factors to be considered when selecting a workstation, according to a new paper.

Resolution and luminance are not the only factors to be considered when selecting a workstation, according to a new paper.

"With so many workstation models on the market, selecting the right one for daily use in a particular imaging environment can be daunting," said Elizabeth A. Krupinski, Ph.D., of the radiology department at the University of Arizona.

Krupinski attempts to relieve much of the confusion in a March paper (Radiology 2007 Jan 17;[Epub ahead of print]) that summarizes critical workstation elements as well as characteristics radiologists should consider when shopping for a workstation.

To select the appropriate workstation, she recommends conducting a preselection survey to understand workstation requirements. Radiologists should be asked several questions:

  • How many patient priors do you usually need to interpret current exams? How many do you need displayed simultaneously?

  • When replacing light boxes with monitors, how many monitors will be necessary to display the desired images?

  • When considering a display setup with three monitors (one standard, two high resolution), what is the preferred hanging protocol? Ask for a drawing.

  • What is an acceptable speed for loading, display, and manipulations of images?

Radiologists should also be asked to rank by importance 11 workstation interface issues ranging from default image quality and gray-scale adjustments to multimodality image fusion and 3D presentation.

"Since there is no one-size-fits-all workstation, users must consider a variety of factors when choosing," Krupinski said.

Krupinski said one of the first considerations is whether the workstation will be dedicated to a single modality or serve multimodalities.

A multimodality workstation must be capable of displaying the highest resolution images as close to full resolution as possible, she said.

If full-field digital mammograms and breast MR images are to be viewed on the same workstation, the display must be capable of presenting the higher resolution full-field digital mammograms (a minimum of 3 megapixels) at or near full resolution. The lower resolution MR images will obviously appear at full resolution on a high-resolution display.

If the single modality option is used, full-field digital mammograms still need a high-resolution display, but MR images can be viewed on a lower 1-MP display.

Full-field digital mammography and projection radiography (both computed and direct radiography) typically require high-resolution monochrome displays, but CT, MR, ultrasound, and nuclear medicine applications do not need high-resolution displays, Krupinski said.

The paper does not rehash the CRT versus LCD debate. LCDs now have sufficient luminance levels and contrast ratios and are being widely used in radiology departments, even for full-field digital mammogram viewing.