iPad proves equal to regular screens for TB evals

iPads are just as good as LCD monitors when it comes to diagnosing tuberculosis, according to a follow-up study recently conducted by the University of Maryland.

The original study, which took place in mid-2010, tested only 30 images  found that the original iPad's resolution wasn't quite as good as that of LCD monitors and wasn't sufficient for a primary diagnosis.

In the new study, five radiologists tested 240 images--200 positive and 40 negative--on iPad 2 tablets and on a 27-inch Mac monitor. The agreement between the two displays was statistically equal, researchers report.

"Mobile displays should provide an effective extension of the radiologist's reach," researcher Samir Abboud told radiology news site AuntMinnie.com.

The two big negatives for the mobile technology were speed and size. All of the radiologists reported the iPad2 was far slower than the LCD monitor and that the screen size just couldn't compete with the larger monitor.

"It took, on average, twice as long to view the dataset on the iPad than on the traditional workstation," Abbout said. "Readers also commented on how much smaller the iPad's screen was compared to the 27-inch monitor."

The university's findings are an interesting turnaround for the industry, considering that experts reported to AuntMinnie last fall that tablets were "impractical" for viewing medical images, and likely would never take the place from LCD workstations.

"You won't find a radiologist who wants to read a chest X-ray off an Apple iPad," Dr. David Hirschorn, director of radiology informatics at Staten Island University Hospital said at the time.

To learn more
- read the AuntMinnie article (registration required)