Hospital grade monitors - Should you have them in your practice?
A local dentist asked us if a better monitor would make his schick xrays look better. He was currently using a Dell 17” ultrasharp monitor and had heard about xray specific monitors used in hospitals. We hadn’t heard about these, but we did some legwork and got our hands on a few to do some comparison testing.
NEC is the manufacturer who makes three of these monitors, and they were nice enough to provide us with the following monitors as demos.
NEC MultiSync MD205MG-1: $8,999.00
600:1 Contrast Ratio
30ms Response Time
NEC MultiSync MD212MC: $3,899.00
1050:1 Contrast Ratio
20ms Response Time
1600 x 1200 Resolution
NEC MultiSync MD21GS-2MP-CB2: $2,999.00
700:1 Contrast Ratio
35ms Response Time
1600 x 1200 Resolution
And by the way, these monitors require a $1,000 video card to properly display at full resolution.
We had two dentists take a look at these monitors. With the first dentist we were comparing a Dell Laptop screen to the two monitors. The xrays used were from Shick Sensors and Scanx Pans. With the second dentist we looked at Shick sensor xrays on a Dell Ultrasharp 17" monitor. Ultimately the goal was to see if the screens produced an image superior enough to actually make a difference in diagnosis. If this were the case, perhaps it would make sense to have one (cost prohibitive to have multiple) of these screens in the practice dedicated just for viewing xrays. In treatment rooms the standard monitors would suffice for showing patients their xrays and images.
Here is what we and the Drs. concluded in the test:
The NEC monitors definitely produced a better image. They were brighter and easier to see from a distance and when seated at an angle from the screen. Also, the grayscale monitors showed better images than the color monitor. However, the images produced by the sensor and scanx does not have the resolution to really make use of these monitors. These monitors are very high resolution, and with a high resolution image would allow you to zoom in without losing clarity. The problem we discovered is that the xrays themselves are not a high enough resolution for this. When zooming in the xrays became grainy on all three screens. Considering the price of these monitors and the limitation of dental xray sensors we concluded that these are probably not a worthwhile investment for most cases. We thanked NEC for their Demo units and shipped them back!
After we conducted this test, we spoke with some individuals whithin hospitals about these monitors, and for the types of imaging they do (MRI, CAT scan, etc...) a monitor like this does make a big difference. However, they also mentioned that they were looking to cheaper alternatives ($2,000 and under). As dental imaging improves (and 3d imaging becomes more available) these types of screens may very well find their way into quite a few dental practices. For now it looks like a good quality Dell monitor will fit the bill just fine.