Smart Phones Aid Diagnosis

from <a href="" target="_blank">WebMD</a> &#8212; a health information Web site for patients

Charlene Laino

December 01, 2009

December 1, 2009 (Chicago) — Your child has abdominal pain and the young doctor suspects appendicitis. But he wants to make sure.

There’s an app for that.

CT scan images sent via an iPhone, using a $19.99 app that's available on iTunes, were clear enough for correct diagnoses to be made in 99% of cases, researchers say.

In fact, almost any smart phone will do, says Elliot Fishman, MD, director of diagnostic imaging and body CT at Johns Hopkins University.

"The promise is that we can look at anything anywhere" says Fishman, who is familiar with but not involved in the research.

The technology can expedite diagnosis and, therefore, treatment, he tells WebMD.

CT Scan Images Sent on Smart Phone

For the study, researchers took CT images of 25 patients suspected of having appendicitis and sent them via iPhone to five radiology residents. Then, the residents were asked to make a diagnosis based on what they could see on their phones.

Only one reader failed to make the right diagnosis.

In every other case, the residents correctly determined that 15 of the patients were suffering from appendicitis and that 10 of the patients did not have appendicitis and did not require treatment.

Asim Choudhri, MD, a fellow in neuroradiology at Johns Hopkins who performed the study while at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, presented the findings here at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

Smart Phone Not for Final Diagnosis

Choudhri tells WebMD that a detailed image can be sent in one to five minutes on a smart phone depending on the type of connection that's being used.

Joseph Tashjian, MD, president of St. Paul Radiology and a spokesman for RSNA, says that the application might also be useful for patients who want to bring their medical records along when visiting another facility.

But the application, which is not approved by the FDA, should not be used to make a final diagnosis, he tells WebMD.

"It's a distribution method that can facilitate decision-making," Tashjian says.

"Transmitting the images over a mobile device allows for instant consultation and diagnosis from a remote location. It can also aid in surgical planning," he says.


95th Annual Meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, Nov. 29-Dec. 4, 2009, Chicago.

Elliot Fishman, MD, director of diagnostic imaging and body CT, Johns Hopkins University.

Asim Choudhri, MD, fellow in neuroradiology, Johns Hopkins.

Joseph Tashjian, MD, president, St. Paul Radiology, Minnesota.