Smartphone photos of x-ray images can help medical professionals diagnose lung problems as effectively as the original films, Australian research has found.
The study, published by Melbourne's Royal Women's Hospital on Friday, examined how standard films of babies suffering from a suspected collapsed lung compared to photos of the films taken on a smartphone.
Jennifer Dawson, the lead researcher of the study, said that the research would have significant implications for patients in rural Australia who would be able to be diagnosed quickly and accurately with the new method.
"The findings give doctors confidence to quickly send X-rays images to specialists based in another location, and receive a quick diagnosis, advice on treatment and recommendations to transfer babies to specialist care if needed," Dawson told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Friday.
The study found that there was no difference in the accuracy of detecting collapsed lungs between the photo and the films with the smartphone images even resulting in a slightly higher rate of accurate diagnosis than the traditional films.
Doctors involved in the research focused on pneumothorax, a condition where air leaks into the space between the lung and the chest wall.
Marta Thio, a consultant neonatologist, said without an x-ray, pneumothorax could easily be misdiagnosed and treated incorrectly, causing the condition to worsen.
"This research shows we can make a diagnosis far more quickly while maintaining accuracy, simply by using smartphone images in conjunction with speaking to the doctor," Thio said.
"We do not have to wait for both clinicians to be in front of a computer to view images sent by email, which could potentially delay diagnosis."