Medical-grade PC monitors are designed to meet a different set of needs to those of consumer-level displays. Even discerning monitor users like photographers have different priorities to medical staff when choosing and using a display. So, what features set medical-grade monitors apart?
What’s Different About Medical-Grade Monitors?
There is some cross-over between the monitor needs of typical computer users and medical professionals. But there are substantial differences, too, which are catered for in the specs of a medical-grade monitor. These are discussed below.
Luminance is essentially measurable brightness and is controlled primarily by the brightness OSD control on most monitors. Setting luminance is part of the calibration process.
Luminance is measured in cd/m2 (candela per square meter – aka nits). Below are typical differences in luminance settings between users:
- Photographers usually set their desktop PC monitors to 80-160 cd/m2
- Consumers often use an out-of-the-box luminance of up to 300 cd/m2
- Medical professionals might run their medical-grade monitors at 500 cd/m2. This helps radiologists to make a diagnosis and overcomes the negative effect of bright surrounding light. Maximum luminance in a medical-grade monitor is substantial.
Running a monitor at high luminance reduces its lifespan, so the guarantee that comes with a medical-grade monitor is important to those in the industry.
Medical-grade monitors are usually made with IPS panels. These allow for a vastly superior viewing angle, where tone and gradation do not alter with user movement. These panels are relatively rare in laptops, but have become more commonplace in PC monitors.
High resolution is the norm in medical-grade monitors. The “sharpness” of a monitor image is largely defined by the pixel pitch of the screen, which describes pixel density. Screen surface also affects this, but in a medical monitor the surface must counteract glare, too.
Other Aspects of Calibration
Experts in medical imagery like those at https://antarosmedical.com/ work with the highest-quality monitors available. They must be certain when assessing MRI or PET scans, for instance, that what they’re seeing is reliable and nuanced.
A poorly calibrated monitor can exhibit problems, such as banding in images, where gradation that is vital for diagnosis becomes posterized. Medical-grade monitors should display tones across the entire range, meaning 256 distinct levels from dark shadow to bright highlight in an 8-bit image.
High-end medical monitors may allow internal 10-bit (or more) hardware calibration. This enables more precise calibration that is less prone to banding and other artefacts, even if the displayed image is only 8-bit. Advanced medical monitors may also adjust luminance and color temperature on the fly according to changing light falling upon the screen.
DICOM Part 14 is a calibration standard in medical-grade monitors that focuses on measuring and setting precise grayscale levels and applies a special tone response curve to this end. This achieves optimum tonality in a grayscale image for medical diagnosis.
Medical-grade monitors should be IEC 60601 compliant, meaning they conform to safety and performance standards set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).