Printed on Film versus Soft Copy Display

Digital chest radiographs can be viewed either by printing them on film or by viewing them on a computer screen. With current technology, there is no firm evidence that one method of viewing provides greater accuracy than the other. Display on film is a more mature technology and only limited technical improvements that would affect diagnostic quality are foreseen. Computer screen (or monitor) display is a moderately mature technology, but one where technical innovation is more likely. If the changes in computer screen display are favorable to the display of chest radiographs, then this method of display may eventually surpass that of the display on film. Some of the future advances that could make soft-copy display the diagnostically superior method are the ability to rapidly switch between image-processing settings, the incorporation of computer-aided detection and diagnosis, and the ability to label an image that will be incorporated into the report to the patient's treating physician. The optimum report in the future is likely to consist of annotations on an image with a final impression rather than the word-based descriptions currently used.

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