Reading, understanding, and making a diagnosis from a radiological or other medical scan is no easy feat, even for expert radiologists and doctors.
Sometimes, signs get missed, visual illusions appear in the scan, or important factors get obscured. This is called “interpretive error,” and it means the scan was read or interpreted incorrectly.
“Interpretive error” is still a huge nightmare for hospitals, patients, and doctors. In a study from April of 2017, published in the American Journal of Roentgenology, it was found that the rate of interpretive error in radiology hasn’t changed significantly since 1949. With almost 70 years of technological progress between now and then, how is that possible?
And what can be done to improve it?
In Medical Imaging, High-Quality Visuals Are King
In the study mentioned above by the AJR, perceptual errors “account for 60 to 80% of interpretive errors.” This just means that either the scan or the method of viewing the scan was unclear, and a mistake was made.
Beverly P. Wood M.D., at the USC School of Medicine, described the process very much like learning how to read. She writes that the radiologist or tech must hone their skill through long practice, creating a “mental library of images and patterns” and instinctively learn how to interpret them correctly. She also stresses that visual stimuli are the most important markers for human perception, and that “at least 80% of incoming stimuli are visually based.”
Which is exactly why it’s so important that medical monitors and medical panel PCs be high resolution, offer a solid refresh rate, and have a bright display. The key to more accurate readings is to make sure that imaging techs and clinicians have the best set of eyes on the problem.
The New Tech on the Block
As computer processors speed up, medical imaging has taken a great leap forward.
Today’s widescreen, 4k medical computers are high-definition, certified for EN-60601-1 and UL60950, and can even include antiglare technology that provides a crisp and clean picture for spotting even the smallest details of a scan no matter the lighting conditions.
Of course, the hardware underneath the screen is also pushing the future of medical imaging tech ever closer.
Make Better Decisions with 3D Imaging
Increased processing and data transfer speeds have allowed 3D imaging to move from grainy, artifact-laden images to true three-dimensional tomography with volumetric rendering.
CT scans can create full 3D maps of veins and arteries, brain tissue, tumors, skeletal structure, and even exact organ placement.
State-of-the-art medical monitors, combined with purpose-built imaging devices, allow these near sci-fi levels of medical imaging and radiology to be used by hospitals around the world.
Soak Up Fewer Rays with Ghost Imaging
A new form of 3D imaging, “ghost imaging” or “ghost tomography” exposes the patient to fewer x-rays while still maintaining a visual picture.
Ghost imaging uses two x-ray beams of the same phase and intensity. One of these beams is fired at the primary target to be imaged (i.e., the patient), while the other is fired at a special panel to serve as a “control” beam. The difference in intensities between the two beams are then calculated on a computer and used to create an image.
While this can be done with various kinds of EM radiation on the spectrum, when done with x-rays it can create medical scans with far less radiation exposure to the patient.
This not only reduces chances of cancer and other harmful side-effects, but it also means the patient can get more frequent scans should they have to without increased radiation exposure.
The tech is still early days, but once the visuals are improved ghost imaging could represent a huge sea change in imaging tech.
Improve Point-of-Care Diagnosis with Portable Ultrasound Machines
Portable ultrasound devices are already moving into the market. Though expensive at the moment — upwards of $4,000 — pocket ultrasound devices like the GE Vscan may ultimately replace the common stethoscope as the go-to portable diagnosis device for clinicians.
Handheld ultrasound devices are roughly the size of a jumbo cell phone, and come with a small probe attached by a thin cable. This probe takes the place of the usual ultrasound “wand,” but at a fraction of the size.
The pocket ultrasound can hear and visualize heartbeats, providing healthcare workers with far more accurate and detailed data right at the first point of care.
There are also options like the Philips Lumify, an ultrasound app that can be used on any smartphone or medical tablet in conjunction with a USB transducer probe that plugs into most standard devices.
See More with Advanced AI
Artificial intelligence and machine learning are best for taking massive amounts of data and combining it to find patterns and categorize information. As anyone who works in or near the medical field is aware, there’s no shortage of work finding patterns and categorizing information.
Companies like LG and Samsung, for instance, have announced that they’re using AI algorithms to improve the accuracy of their imaging devices. These pattern-detecting and image-extrapolating programs are able to take only partial or obscured scans and render them fully visible via sampling and educated extrapolation.
These scans can detect lung nodules hidden by rib bones, or help increase breast cancer diagnoses by up to 5%, especially amongst younger or inexperienced doctors.
Advanced AI coupled with modern imaging hardware can even detect cartilage thickness or determine whether a stroke is being caused by a hemorrhage or a blood clot.
Embedding Medical Panel PCs into Imaging Machines
Medical machine manufacturers are making better use of existing medical computers, medical tablets, and medical panel PCs to serve as the brains and interfaces for their imaging machines.
Why reinvent the wheel and design a computer from the ground up in addition to a high-tech imaging machine when there are plenty of medical computers perfectly designed to do the job? A medical panel PC with a touchscreen interface is simple to use, and can even come with features like antimicrobial housing, fanless design, and IP65 certification.
The antimicrobial housing creates a hostile environment for bacteria, preventing them from growing on the PC and spreading to other users. The fanless design prevents the computer from pushing air around and potentially spreading airborne contagions. And the IP65 rating means two very important things for medical machines:
First, it means that the computer can be sprayed down with disinfectant and other cleaning solutions and wiped clean without damage to the device.
The IP65 rating also means that the case is hardened against physical particle intrusion, preventing dust, dirt, and other mediums from entering the case.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
Staying up to date on medical imaging technology is a moving target, but visuals, processing power, and innovation will always be key components to radiological, ultrasonic, or tomographic scanners of any kind.
Contact Cybernet to learn more about how medical monitors and medical panel PCs can augment and improve medical imaging machines.