Telemedicine Can Effectively ID Retinopathy of Prematurity

System relies on nonphysician retinal imagers, readers at central server

FRIDAY, June 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- A telemedicine system consisting of trained nonphysician imagers and readers is effective for detection of referral-warranted retinopathy of prematurity (RW-ROP) in at-risk infants, according to a study published online June 26 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

Graham E. Quinn, M.D., from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues analyzed ophthalmology findings in 1,257 infants (mean birth weight, 864 g; mean gestational age, 27 weeks) from May 25, 2011, through Oct. 31, 2013. Regularly scheduled diagnostic examinations were performed by an ophthalmologist, and digital imaging by nonphysician staff using a wide-field digital camera (six-image set per eye) were graded at a central server.

The researchers found that, from a median of three sessions of examinations and imaging, characteristics of RW-ROP in 18.2 percent of eyes (19.4 percent of infants) were identified. Sensitivity of 81.9 percent and specificity of 90.1 percent were seen for remote grading of images of an eye at a single session. The sensitivity increased to 90.0 percent with specificity of 87.0 percent (negative predictive value of 97.3 percent and positive predictive value of 62.5 percent) when both eyes were considered for the presence of RW-ROP, as would routinely be done in a screening.

"These results provide strong support for the validity of remote evaluation by trained nonphysician readers of digital retinal images taken by trained nonphysician imagers from infants at risk for RW-ROP," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the imaging or medical device industries.

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