28 feb 2017

Consumer vs. medical-grade displays: A question of accuracy


Clear and consistent images are crucial to making accurate diagnoses and identifying the best options for treatment, and so is having the right display to view them. New consumer displays promote specs that seem to approach those of some medical-grade systems, and often cost less. But there is more to consider than just these specs. So, why choose a medical display?

Radiologists using medical displays read with greater confidence, speed and precision. The reason is simple: medical-grade imaging solutions meet requirements for image quality, grayscale and color viewing, and conform with DICOM and other standards.

Brighten up your day...

Consider the brightness of your screen, for example. Higher luminance results in more just noticeable differences (JNDs) and a broader grayscale spectrum, which makes it easier to detect subtle lesions, and thus diagnose faster. And faster diagnosis means faster treatment and a greater chance for a successful outcome. 

But don’t be misled by luminance specs. Though recent consumer displays may seem to offer sufficient brightness at first glance, they tend to degrade quickly over time. Medical displays can go up to 1,000 cd/m² or more, but more importantly, their luminance output remains steady over time. This also means that compliance with DICOM 3.14 is guaranteed at all times.

After just one year of use, the consumer display may degrade enough to negatively impact diagnostic and visual search performance.

Elizabeth A. Krupinski, Ph. D.

Research Professor, Department of Radiology

Everyday, everywhere

In medical imaging, it is important that images are displayed consistently over time – but also across displays. Medical-grade displays are equipped with built-in stabilization and some even have patented front-screen sensors. 

In this way, they guarantee consistent image brightness and clarity – not only throughout the display’s entire lifespan, but on all other medical-grade displays that are connected to the enterprise network. This means colleagues in different locations see identical images as well, which greatly facilitates accurate remote collaboration.

Less 'noise', more consistency

LCD panels suffer from inherent luminance uniformity imperfections, which cause arbitrary patterns or ‘noise’. This noise negatively impacts reading efficiency. Some LCD displays can suffer from 25-30% non-uniformity.

Many medical-grade systems tackle this issue via integrated uniformity technologies. These provide consistent brightness and improved grayscale presentation, ensuring better visualization of subtle radiographic abnormalities.

Different perspectives, consistent conclusions

Medical workstations often combine multiple monitors. This means viewing inevitably happens from different angles. When looking at medical images, you need a luminance ratio of at least 350 cd/m². But not all displays can guarantee that luminance ratio when images are viewed off center. This can impact interpretation.

Displays should be 100% ACR compliant across the screen, preserving a minimum of 350 cd/m², a high contrast ratio and excellent color values under different viewing angles.

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