What is a medical display controller?

A display controller, or graphics card, translates data files into visual imagery: it enables a display to show what is sent to it by a connected computer. Display controllers are used in all environments that make use of a display to show visual content: consumer computer screens also contain one, and they’re used in gaming and video. Medical-grade displays require an advanced display controller that can faultlessly process the large, highly detailed files that come with medical imaging.

Display controller vs GPU

In order to work, a display controller needs an input slot, which connects it with the computer, and a video output, which connects it with the medical display. In between, the translation from file to visual takes place. That is where the Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) comes in. Each display controller contains a GPU that makes the visualization possible.


A display controller can do more than just show images from your computer on your display. Thanks to the GPU, it is also possible to add extra functionalities to your medical display. Zooming in, for instance, or highlighting a specific part of an image. Or it can also make it easy to move fluently from one display to another, when two or more are attached to each other.

Medical display controllers

As they are used in various environments, display controllers exist in many shapes and sizes. Useful features of a display controller for medical use are durability, reliability and swiftness: they can handle intensive, long-term use, and process large images correctly and with minimal delay. In these ways, they can support the medical professional’s workflow.

Furthermore, advanced display controllers can be of great value in medical environments, as they can support technologies to better detect small details and work faster. For example, Barco’s SpotView tool has been proven to help increasing reading accuracy while decreasing reading time.*

Some vendors of medical displays design and validate their own medical display controllers. This ensures that if you buy a medical display system from them, the graphics card is compatible with and optimizes the performance of the display itself. On top of that, the same warranty conditions often apply for the graphics card as for the medical display.


Medical-grade display controllers need to be able to translate large image files of various formats onto a diagnostic display screen. On top of that, they need to be reliable: they need to work for longer periods at a time, and are ideally future-proof and adaptable to new digital developments in healthcare.

*Krupinski, E. (2018). Reducing Radiation Dose in Digital Mammography by Increasing Display Luminance. Proceedings of SIIM, 2018.