Objectives: To determine the accuracy of assessment of common ENT emergency radiological investigations using mobile phone digital images.
Design: Prospective case controlled series.
Setting: Tertiary referral otolaryngology centre.
Participants: Fourteen randomly selected patients who underwent emergency ENT radiological investigations over a 1-month period.
Main outcome measures: The accuracy and confidence of six ENT consultants and five specialist registrars in making diagnoses based on a brief history and assessment of CT scans and X-ray images taken from and transmitted via a mobile phone, compared with examination of the same films on a conventional X-ray box.
Results: With 14 films, a total of 154 cases were assessed by the 11 subjects. All doctors made the correct diagnosis for every case examined. Overall, the relative confidence of diagnosis was ranked highly for both image media, although the overall confidence of diagnosis using the X-ray box was significantly greater than the mobile phone (95% CI upper bound = 1.6 lower bound = 0.9; paired t-test P < 0.0001). The seniority of the clinician did not predict a difference in the confidence of diagnosis (P = 0.3). There is no statistical relationship between confidence of diagnosis of the original films and degradation of film quality on the mobile phone (P = 0.7).
Conclusions: The accuracy and confidence of diagnosis of common ENT emergency radiological investigations using mobile phone digital images seem compatible with X-ray box. Financially it is a much cheaper than conventional telemedicine technology. It may be used to augment information sent to non-resident specialists in the management of emergency ENT cases.