Introduction to radiological interpretation

Published on 12/06/2015 by admin

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Last modified 12/06/2015

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Introduction to radiological interpretation

Interpretation of radiographs can be regarded as an unravelling process – uncovering all the information contained within the black, white and grey radiographic images. The main objectives are:

To achieve these objectives and maximize the diagnostic yield, interpretation should be carried out under specified conditions, following ordered, systematic guidelines.

Unfortunately, interpretation is often limited to a cursory glance under totally inappropriate conditions. Clinicians often fall victim to the problems and pitfalls produced by spot diagnosis and tunnel vision. This is in spite of knowing that in most cases radiographs are their main diagnostic aid.

This chapter provides an introductory approach to how radiographs should be interpreted, specifying the viewing conditions required and suggesting systematic guidelines.

Essential requirements for interpretation

The essential requirements for interpreting dental radiographs can be summarized as follows:

Optimum viewing conditions

For film-captured images these include:

These ideal viewing conditions give the observer the best chance of perceiving all the detail contained within the radiographic image. With many simultaneous external stimuli, such as extraneous light and inadequate viewing conditions, the amount of information obtained from the radiograph is reduced. Film-captured radiographs should be viewed once they have dried as films still wet from processing may show some distortion of the image.

Digital images should be viewed on bright, high-resolution monitors in subdued lighting (see Fig. 19.2). Table 19.1 outlines the minimum and ideal specifications of the monitor (image display device) as recommended in the UK by the Health Protection Agency and by the Royal College of Radiologists.

Table 19.1

Summary of the minimum and ideal specifications for the monitor when viewing digital images

  Minimum specification Ideal specification
Screen resolution ≥1280 × 1024 (~1.3 megapixels) ≥1500 × 2000
Screen size (viewable diagonal) ≥42cm (~17″) ≥50cm (~20″)
Maximum luminance >170 cd/m2 ≥500cd/m2
Luminance contrast ratio ≥250 : 1 ≥500 : 1
Greyscale bit depth 8-bit greyscale (24-bit colour) ≥10-bit greyscale