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Emergency CT brain: preliminary interpretation with a tablet device: image quality and diagnostic performance of the Apple iPad

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Tablet devices have recently been used in radiological image interpretation because they have a display resolution comparable to desktop LCD monitors. We identified a need to examine tablet display performance prior to their use in preliminary interpretation of radiological images. We compared the spatial and contrast resolution of a commercially available tablet display with a diagnostic grade 2 megapixel monochrome LCD using a contrast detail phantom. We also recorded reporting discrepancies, using the ACR RADPEER system, between preliminary interpretation of 100 emergency CT brain examinations on the tablet display and formal review on a diagnostic LCD. The iPad display performed inferiorly to the diagnostic monochrome display without the ability to zoom. When the software zoom function was enabled on the tablet device, comparable contrast detail phantom scores of 163 vs 165 points were achieved. No reporting discrepancies were encountered during the interpretation of 43 normal examinations and five cases of acute intracranial hemorrhage. There were seven RADPEER2 (understandable) misses when using the iPad display and 12 with the diagnostic LCD. Use of software zoom in the tablet device improved its contrast detail phantom score. The tablet allowed satisfactory identification of acute CT brain findings, but additional research will be required to examine the cause of “understandable” reporting discrepancies that occur when using tablet devices.

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Correspondence to Michael M. Maher.

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Mc Laughlin, P., Neill, S.O., Fanning, N. et al. Emergency CT brain: preliminary interpretation with a tablet device: image quality and diagnostic performance of the Apple iPad. Emerg Radiol 19, 127–133 (2012).

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