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Getting a second opinion from an expert radiologist just became easier, thanks to new capabilities in the Veterinary Medical Center at Ohio State.
"Teleradiology is simply the ability to transmit digital imaging files from one location to another for some form of interpretation and then transmitting the report back," explained Dr. Tod Drost, associate professor in the Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences. "It serves as a faster means to get images to a radiologist for their interpretation to help with case management."
"In the old days, if a veterinarian saw something on the films that looked questionable, they would take the piece of film, put it in an envelope, stick it in the mail, and a few days later it would show up here," Dr. Drost explained. "Now, if it's digital they can send it to us and typically within 24 hours - during business days - we'll get an answer to them."
Ohio State's veterinary radiology department has been all digital since 2005, and most veterinary practices are changing to all-digital radiology also.
"Clients now come in with CDs instead of packets of film," said Dr. Drost. "Sometimes it's hard to get the image off the CD, which sounds strange, but because of different file formats it's like a new challenge every day. With this new capability, images can be sent in advance of the appointment so we can review them before the client gets here."
The files are DICOM files, which is an acronym for Digital Imaging in Communications and Medicine. A recent Supplement on "Digital Radiography" of "Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound," which was edited by Dr. Drost and is available online, and explains the new technology in detail. The articles are available in down-loaded PDF and other formats.
"DICOM files are fairly universal," said Dr. Drost. "Radiology, ultrasound, CT, MRI, nuclear medicine - all the imaging is transmitted in DICOM. We're working with a company started by boarded radiologists in San Diego called DVM Insight. They've done a lot of organization of how to transmit these images through a web-based program."
The opportunity to add this capability to the hospital is exciting on many different levels.
"We're excited about this. First because we'll be more accessible to people and will be able to help with cases much more quickly," said Dr. Drost. "This will be good for rest of hospital. For example, if someone sends something in and we know they need to talk with an orthopedic surgeon, we can refer them right away. It's also going to be great for our interns and residents. The best way to learn radiology is to see case after case after case, so we hope this will give us more cases. We have enough to have a very strong training program, but having even more will make it that much better."
The price for digital image interpretation (radiographs) is $45; CT or MRI interpretation is $75 per reading. For more information, call 614-292-1040 and ask to speak with a radiologist, or send vet [dot] radiology [at] cvm [dot] osu [dot] edu (email).
Written by: Melissa Weber