November 13, 2019 --
Dr. Enver Tahir from University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and colleagues have implemented an around-the-clock teleradiology service to handle passengers who have an oceanic mishap or need medical attention while sailing the seven seas.
The researchers tested the teleradiology system between February 2017 and September 2018 on four cruise ships that were equipped with a mobile digital x-ray unit. A total of 410 digital x-rays from 355 patients were securely sent by satellite internet and a virtual private network (VPN) to the tertiary hospital's PACS. From there, the radiologist on call read the reports and immediately sent the results back to the cruise ship through the VPN.
The vast majority of images were skeletal x-rays (85%), with fracture after a trauma being the most frequent concern (63%). The remaining cases were chest x-rays with pneumonia and abdominal x-rays. In 14% of the cases, the radiologist on call at the tertiary hospital detected pathologies that were previously missed by the physician on board the cruise ship.
"Using a VPN tunnel, we were able to demonstrate a robust and well-functioning workflow allowing a routine high-standard interpretation of x-rays that were imaged on board by experienced radiologists in a tertiary hospital," Tahir and colleagues wrote. "A 24-hour teleradiology service for cruise ships has the potential to improve immediate patient care in emergencies on board of cruise ships by making use of the expertise of a radiologist."