In co-operation with the Health Imaging Division of the Kodak company, the Department of Radiology in the Trento region has developed a radiological emergency service for digital diagnosis of patients, located in remote areas. The new system, referred to as Emerald, enables real time medical treatment via the transmission of X-ray images over the Internet by means of a telematic network. The telemedicine service very soon will be extended to the fields of teleoncology and telecardiology.
The Emerald system is inspired on the advanced Digital Science medical imaging solution for remote primary diagnosis, designed by Kodak. The company's teleradiology equipment consists of a computed radiography device which turns visual medical material captured on storage phosphor screens into viewable images. In less than one single minute, the film digitizer converts images from film radiographs to high quality digital images, suitable for diagnosis.
Subsequently, the images can be transmitted from multiple locations to a diagnostic reading site via T1 lines, Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) or Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN). Here, the physicians are able to study the images in detail on diagnostic workstations and medical viewing stations or even have the laser printer made a hard-copy output. The workstations are equipped with two high resolution monitors, allowing radiologists to compare images of the same patient taken at different times.
Operators can also zoom in on a part of the image and enhance details enabling the doctors to adjust the density range of the final image to display soft tissue or bone. As a result, an accurate diagnosis is being made and a report can be dictated on the spot for transmission via the Internet to the remote site. It is also possible to send images to the home or office of the medical specialist who can consult the material on a personal computer and have the data printed out with a desktop printer.
It has taken the Trento Radiology Department and the Kodak Health Imaging Division several months to realize the Emerald project. First, the partners have made a profound analysis of the available network capacities and the technological potential in the region. A feasibility study has been carried out in collaboration with two American medical facilities which have in use a similar teleradiological system, namely the Long Beach Memorial Hospital in Los Angeles and the hospital network in the state of Oklahoma.
Since a few months, the Emerald system is successfully functioning as a medical guard for teleradiological services to cover the whole territory of Trento. The service has been integrated in a comprehensive telemedicine programme which will also present teleoncology and telecardiology treatment to the local population in the near future. Infocity has served as the main source of information for the news in this article.