Image quality assurance has traditionally been a high priority in medical imaging departments. Recently, it has often been neglected with the transition from hard copy (film) to soft copy (computer) display systems, which could potentially result in difficulty in reading images or even misdiagnosis. This transition therefore requires careful management such that comparable image quality is achieved at a minimum. It is particularly difficult to maintain appropriate image quality in the clinical settings outside of medical imaging departments because of the volume of display systems and the financial restraints that prohibit the widespread use of dedicated computers and high-quality monitors. In this study, a protocol to test and calibrate display systems was developed and validated by using an inexpensive calibration tool. Using this protocol, monitors were identified in a hospital in which image quality was found to be inadequate for medical image viewing. It was also found that most monitors could achieve a substantial increase in image quality after calibration. For example, the 0 and 5% luminance difference was discernable on 30% of the piloted display systems before calibration, but it was discernable on 100% post calibration. In addition, about 50% of the piloted display systems did not have the maximum luminance (white level) suitably set, and 35% of them did not have the minimum luminance (dark level) suitably set. The results indicate that medical display systems must be carefully selected and strictly monitored, maintained, and calibrated to ensure adequate image quality.
Key words: Image quality, display system, calibration, quality control, quality assurance, monitor, medical imaging, softcopy, cathode ray tube, liquid crystal display, DICOM 14, Grayscale Standard Display Function, SMPTE, luminance