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Assessment of on-screen measurements, magnification, and calibration in digital radiography

Robyn L. Read DVM1, Colleen G. Duncan DVM, MSC, PhD, DACVP, DACVPM2, Aaron D. Wallace BA3, James A. Perry DVM, PhD4, and Felix M. Duerr DVM, MS, DACVS5
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  • 1 Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists, 104 S Main St, Longmont, CO 80501.
  • | 2 Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523.
  • | 3 Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists, 104 S Main St, Longmont, CO 80501.
  • | 4 Aspen Meadow Veterinary Specialists, 104 S Main St, Longmont, CO 80501.
  • | 5 Veterinary Teaching Hospital, Colorado State University, 300 W Drake Rd, Fort Collins, CO 80523.

Abstract

Objective—To compare calibration methods for digital radiography in terms of measurement accuracy and interobserver variability.

Design—Prospective study.

Sample—Digital radiographic images of a 155-mm-long Steinmann pin.

Procedures—Measurement of pin length on digital radiographs was determined with a 25.4-mm-diameter calibration ball and commercially available software program via 3 calibration methods (ie, no calibration, autocalibration, and manual calibration). Digital radiographs of the calibration ball and pin were obtained with each placed at various vertical heights from the table (7 heights) and horizontal distances from the center of the beam (4 distances). Measurements of pin length on digital radiographs were made by 4 observers who were blinded to the orientation of the calibration ball and pin.

Results—Pin lengths obtained by each calibration method were significantly different from each other and from the true value. Manual calibration was the most accurate. There was no significant interobserver variability in measurements. There was no significant change in measurements when the calibration ball was moved horizontally, but pin length measurements changed significantly when the ball was moved vertically (away from the table) with an approximate magnification error of 1% per centimeter of distance between the calibration ball and pin.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—For digital radiography, manual calibration is recommended to achieve the most accurate measurements. Ideally, the calibration ball should be placed at the same vertical height as the object to be measured; however, if this cannot be achieved, the magnification error can be expected to be approximately 1% per centimeter of distance.

Contributor Notes

Presented at the 38th Annual Conference of the Veterinary Orthopedic Society, Snowmass, Colo, March 2011.

Address correspondence to Dr. Read (rread@aspenmeadowvet.com).