Digital radiography is a key development in diagnostic imaging that can help improve patient care, support better patient outcomes, expand consultation capabilities, and enhance client interaction. It has become the gold standard in the veterinary industry for over 15 years. It started as a very costly (>$100K) investment when first launched, but as it has become more mainstream, the modality has become more affordable.
Here are the principal advantages over film-based radiography:
- Image Quality
- Cost Savings
- Fewer Retakes
- Decreased Radiation Exposure
Getting a clear read from traditional film radiography isn’t always easy, whether it’s due to errors from patient movement, positioning, or exposure issues. Zooming and changing the appearance of the image is also impossible with film. If a veterinary practice has trouble consistently obtaining high¬ quality radiographic images using film, making the switch to digital radiography is a clear solution that pays for itself. DR is also much more forgiving than film due to the image processing algorithms. Practices can expect images with a balanced presentation of bone structures and overlapping soft tissue along with a realistic representation of the anatomy.
Film, chemicals, and processing costs are expensive, not to mention your staff’s time that is required for developing film. Switching to digital radiography eliminates these outdated expenses. Plus, darkroom space and real estate used to archive radiographs can be converted for other uses. What’s more, digital radiography images are sent to a computer and viewable seconds after being taken, meaning technicians will spend less time on menial tasks like filing and retrieving films leaving more time for productive tasks.
Digital radiography systems are much easier to use than film¬-based systems, therefore reducing the number of poor ¬quality radiographs due to technician and exposure errors. Digital technology is also much faster than conventional radiography, and computer software allows adjustment of brightness, contrast, zoom and pan to optimize both bone and soft tissue in one exposure. As long as the patient is positioned correctly, most everything else can be adjusted with a few clicks of a mouse or even gestures with your fingers on the viewing screen.
Film radiography takes time to process. Each image can then only be assessed after it comes out of the processor and put on a light-¬box, but digital radiography can be viewed immediately. This instant access allows technicians to see if the patient is positioned correctly or if the exposure is balanced. With advanced features like creating shot lists and 3D position assistant placed at the technicians’ fingertips, users from novice to expert to can get more out of radiography than ever before.
Decreased Radiation Exposure
The safety benefits of digital radiography are twofold: First, fewer retakes mean fewer exposures, resulting in a decrease in radiation exposure to patients and staff. Second, current state-of-the-art digital sensors are more responsive than film so less radiation (up to 70%) is required to produce a digital image. Both staff members and patients benefit from lessened exposure to radiation with digital systems giving staff peace of mind.
Upgrading radiography equipment is a necessary investment if veterinary practices want to enhance diagnostics and improve efficiency. When chosen wisely, an investment in digital radiography more than pays for itself with increased efficiency, better diagnostics, and likely an increase in radiology caseload. There are virtually never regrets if the proper system is chosen. Digital radiography is already the industry norm, so whether you’re just starting to transition or you are looking to upgrade, the time is now.
When practices invest in today’s most advanced DR systems, DVMs enjoy higher quality images and more rapid diagnoses that come with greater confidence. Patients can get treatment faster, heal quicker and live happier, healthier lives.