Many rural sites cannot afford a digitizer to digitize radiographic films and transmit them via a telemedicine network for review by a radiology specialist. This project tested the feasibility of using a consumer digital still camera to photograph radiographic images and transmit there via a telemedicine network to a consulting hub site. In this study, the feasibility of using a digital camera to photograph plain film radiographs of 40 bone trauma cases from a rural health center in Arizona was tested. The cases were transmitted to the Arizona Telemedicine Program hub site using a private asynchronous transfer mode network based on T1 carriers. Two orthopedic surgeons and two radiologists reviewed the cases on a color monitor and the original film images. The readers also rated image quality. There were no significant differences in diagnostic accuracy between conventional film and telemedicine reading. Diagnostic agreement between film and monitor viewing was quite high, as was agreement in confidence ratings. Image quality was generally rated as excellent to good in both viewing conditions. Cases that did not correlate well were judged to have poor image quality, or diagnoses were based on photographs that had part of the diagnostic region of interest cropped off. It was determined that a digital still camera can be used effectively in many cases to photograph radiographic images for transmission and viewing via a telemedicine network, as long as adequate views, zoomed in regions of interest, and good quality original films are used in the acquisition process.
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