Digital radiography and conventional imaging of the chest: a comparison of observer performance

AJR Am J Roentgenol. 1994 Mar;162(3):575-81. doi: 10.2214/ajr.162.3.8109499.


Objective: The purpose of this study was to compare observer performance in interpreting high-quality, digitally acquired computed radiographs of the chest displayed on either laser-printed radiographs or a workstation with observer performance in interpreting conventional chest radiographs.

Subjects and methods: We performed a receiver-operating-characteristic study in which the presence or absence of five abnormalities was determined by nine experienced radiologists on 310 posteroanterior radiographs of the chest displayed in three forms: conventional radiographs, laser-printed films of digital radiographs, and digital radiographs on a high-resolution workstation.

Results: The results of our study suggest that observer performance with laser-printed films of digital radiographs obtained with high-resolution (4K x 5K), high-contrast sensitivity (12 bits) and appropriate exposure is comparable to observer performance with conventional radiographs. Observer performance with digital radiographs displayed on the workstation was found to be significantly lower for abnormalities that contained high-frequency and low-contrast information (e.g., interstitial disease and pneumothorax).

Conclusion: Computed radiography technology can produce image quality that is adequate for interpreting posteroanterior radiographs of the chest. Observer performance is not as good when radiographs displayed on workstations are used to diagnose specific abnormalities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases / diagnostic imaging
  • Pneumothorax / diagnostic imaging
  • ROC Curve
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement*
  • Radiography, Thoracic* / methods
  • Rib Fractures / diagnostic imaging
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed