Smartphone can be a new tool in emergency department diagnosis

July 23, 2012 By Joy Bell
Smartphone can be a new tool in emergency department diagnosis
The study shows digital fundus photography cameras in the emergency department are helpful in triaging patients who come in with headaches, neurological disturbances, visual changes or severe high blood pressure. 

(Medical Xpress) -- Emory Eye Center investigators have found that smartphone displays are as good, and may be better, for reading fundus photographs of the back of the eye (retina and optic nerve) than desktop computer monitors.  

The new technology has been an added finding in a multi-year study examining the use of non-dilated photography of the back of the eye in the . Emory researchers published this finding within the “Research Letters” section of the Archives of Ophthalmology, July 2012.  

The findings follow up on a study published recently: “Quality of nonmydriatic digital fundus photography obtained by nurse practitioners in the emergency department” (Ophthalmology, March 2012).  

The method studied allows specialized consultations within the emergency department that would not otherwise have been obtainable. Emergency rooms do not staff ophthalmologists, so having the ability to send readily-obtained photographs of the back of the eye, taken by nurse practitioners, to an ophthalmologist outside the hospital setting can be a critical tool. It helps emergency room practitioners assess the severity of their patients’ medical conditions and decide when further ophthalmological consultation is necessary.  

 “We expected equal- or lower-quality images displayed on the iPhone compared with the , but instead found that the iPhone images seem to be superior despite its small size and lower resolution,” says Beau Bruce, MD, a neuro-ophthalmologist at Emory Eye Center. “We believe that the phone’s higher dot pitch and brightness helped. This finding warrants further investigation, and should enable smartphones of all types to be used in a telemedicine network.”  

Because of the prevalence of iPhone technology, the ready access of obvious high-quality images joins the many other applications of smartphones within medicine, such as electronic medical records, books, guidelines and other diagnostic tools. Its portability can provide access to any ophthalmologist with a smartphone.  

The study conducted by Emory titled Fundus Photography vs. Ophthalmoscopy Trial Outcomes in the Emergency Department (FOTO-ED) has shown that non-mydriatic (no dilation required) digital fundus photography cameras in the emergency department are helpful in triaging patients who come in with headaches, neurological disturbances, visual changes or severe high blood pressure. Emergency room practitioners need a timely and accurate assessment of the patient’s condition. Certain conditions can be overlooked when an eye exam is not a part of the overall evaluation. Most patients would not guess that a look inside the eye is what they need for a complete diagnosis.  

“The is a strong indicator of whole-body health,” says Bruce. “Patients who come to us with hypertensive retinopathy, for example, show us how far their hypertension has progressed by the condition of their retinas.”  

Regarding use of the smartphone technology in more subtle conditions such as diabetic retinopathy, Bruce says, “We are not suggesting using the iPhone or any smartphone to screen for these conditions or as a replacement for a patient and doctor consultation. Nothing will take the place of a one-on-one exam, particularly for certain conditions.”

Explore further: Telemedicine 'robot' allows stroke specialists to remotely evaluate patients in oak park

Related Stories

Telemedicine 'robot' allows stroke specialists to remotely evaluate patients in oak park

May 9, 2011
Acute stroke patients who arrive at Rush Oak Park Hospital’s emergency room can now be seen immediately by a Rush University Medical Center stroke neurologist without the specialist actually being there. 

Researchers say patients leave ER with poor understanding of how to care for themselves

January 25, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- In a new review article, researchers at the University of Toronto, The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and Children’s Hospital Boston have found there frequently is a lack of patient-family ...

Virginia Tech researchers highlight danger of firework projectiles toward eyes

July 4, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Just in time for the July Fourth holiday, Virginia Tech College of Engineering researchers have published a study that shines a new spotlight on the dangers of fireworks on the human eye, that projectiles ...

Keeping score helps asthma suffers breathe a sigh of relief

June 10, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Seven per cent of adults and 14 per cent of Canadian children have a hard time breathing because of asthma. Brian Rowe, in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta, is working towards ...

Could 'Love hormone' help treat depression?

February 14, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Gazing into your lover’s eyes isn’t only romantic; it also releases a brain chemical called oxytocin that strengthens social bonds in a variety of species.  For some people who suffer from ...

Surgery may be best for certain back conditions

May 18, 2012
Orthopedic spine surgery may be more effective than non-surgical treatment for low back disorders.

Recommended for you

Combination of type 2 diabetes and sleep apnoea indicates eyesight loss within four years

July 4, 2017
Research led by the University of Birmingham has discovered that patients who suffer from both Type 2 diabetes and obstructive sleep apnoea are at greater risk of developing a condition that leads to blindness within an average ...

Nearly 60% of pinkeye patients receive antibiotic eye drops, but they're seldom necessary

June 28, 2017
A new study suggests that most people with acute conjunctivitis, or pinkeye, are getting the wrong treatment.

Magnetic implants used to treat 'dancing eyes'

June 26, 2017
A research team has successfully used magnets implanted behind a person's eyes to treat nystagmus, a condition characterised by involuntary eye movements.

Drug shows promise against vision-robbing disease in seniors

June 21, 2017
An experimental drug is showing promise against an untreatable eye disease that blinds older adults—and intriguingly, it seems to work in patients who carry a particular gene flaw that fuels the damage to their vision.

Reproducing a retinal disease on a chip

June 15, 2017
Approximately 80% of all sensory input is received via the eyes, so suffering from chronic retinal diseases that lead to blindness causes a significant decrease in the quality of life (QOL). And because retinal diseases are ...

New gene therapy for vision loss proven safe in humans

May 16, 2017
In a small and preliminary clinical trial, Johns Hopkins researchers and their collaborators have shown that an experimental gene therapy that uses viruses to introduce a therapeutic gene into the eye is safe and that it ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.