iPad could bridge gap between home PACS, smartphone

With a meeting as large as the one the Radiological Society of North America puts on each year, we had a feeling that there would be a follow-up to last week's story about the iPad's utility as a medical image viewer. Thanks to the radiology department at the Institute for Maternal and Child Health IRCCS Burlo Garofolo in Trieste, Italy, we have one.

As CMIO reported from last week's RSNA in Chicago, radiologists from the Italian facility already have fixed RIS/PACS stations in their homes for remote consultations, but institute staff wanted to test whether mobility was possible so physicians could provide expert advice no matter where they happened to be.

A research team led by Dr. Floriana Zennaro evaluated CT and MRI images on Apple's iPad and iPhone, as well as on the Android-powered Nexus One smartphone. "Up to this point, 93 exams have been evaluated," Zennaro reportedly said. "And no significant loss of information has been detected. [B]ut, the differences were mostly due to personal interpretation rather than the device."

Zennaro said that there was some concern that viewing many images on smartphones for long periods of time could cause eye fatigue. "We think that tablets could be the right compromise between PACS residential systems and smartphones," she said. "Tablets will be used in addition to smartphones to evaluate a larger number of imaging exams."

Researchers also noted that the mobile devices need to run on an encrypted virtual private network to provide adequate security for medical images, and that it's often difficult to evaluate CT images on smaller, handheld devices because of the large number of slices in each scan.

To learn more:
- have a look at this CMIO story