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  

Grayscale

5 megapixel

20.1" screen

600:1 Contrast Ratio

30ms Response Time

2560x2048 Resolution

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEC MultiSync MD212MC: $3,899.00

Color

2 Megapixel

21.3" screen

1050:1 Contrast Ratio

20ms Response Time

1600 x 1200 Resolution


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NEC MultiSync MD21GS-2MP-CB2: $2,999.00

 

Grayscale

3 Megapixel

21.3" screen

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.

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Comments on Hospital grade monitors - Should you have them in your practice?

Greg Feutz said, on Wed, October 06, 2010

Traditionally the older CRT monitors had a few key advantages including better (more accurate) color reproduction, contrast ratio, refresh rate (important for gaming), and viewing angle.  The gap has almost completely closed on all of these.  LCDs have their advantages too such as less eye strain and space/energy saving. This topic is not without debate and there are plenty of comparisons to read up on.  The true test, however, is how it looks to you and what factors are most important in your practice. Like in our test, you might find that the resolution from the Scanx is not enough to declare a clear winner.  Some additional reading material:
http://compreviews.about.com/od/multimedia/a/CRTvsLCD.htm
http://www.webopedia.com/DidYouKnow/Hardware_Software/2005/all_about_monitors.asp

John Leitner said, on Wed, October 06, 2010

How about the old CRT monitors?  It is my understanding these give better pictures than flat screen anytway.  It is what we have in the ‘ScanX’ room

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