Joslin Chest Atlas (v2.5), made by IdiogenicOsmoles, and costing $14.99, was just updated. This medical app aims to help healthcare providers improve their ability to read chest x-rays.

Learning how to read chest x-rays is one of the most essential tasks you learn in your clinical years. If you’re in the wards late at night and your patient is decompensating, often one of the first tests you order is a plain chest film. In these acute settings, you don’t have time to wait for a radiologist to read your results. That’s one of the reasons why having the ability to properly read a chest film is essential if you’re a healthcare provider.

In this review I’ll go through the features this app provides and explain how it can be used as a learning tool.

Learning how to read a chest film is hammered into you during your clinical years in med school and your residency years. You learn by seeing thousands of chest films and repetition of certain radiographic pathologies. Learning by repetition is what this app provides. It has 78 common radiographic images, with short explanations for each.

When you open this app, you are presented with a catalog of radiographic images, organized “by disease” or “by findings”. There is also a quiz mode toolbar if you want to test yourself. The “by findings” section is further organized into categories such chronic hypertension, foreign bodies, and more. For some of the more common radiographic pathologies, such as a pneumothorax, there are multiple radiographic images.

Once you select on a pathology, such as a pneumothorax, you are presented with an Anteroposterior(AP) chest x-ray view and sometimes a lateral view. You can zoom in and out using the iPhone’s native touch controls. To find out the location of the pathology, you can tap the “show me” toolbar and arrows will point you towards the key area of the radiographic image. You can also tap on the “info” toolbar to get a short blurb about your selected radiographic disease with the option of getting more information using google and wikipedia.

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What we liked about this app:
  • Excellent way to learn key radiographic pathology (pneumothorax, aspirational pneumonia, etc) and key radiographic terms (Peribronchial cuffing, Kerley B lines, etc)
  • Has a lot of the common radiographic pathologies you encounter on the wards.
  • Simple User Interface, although navigation needs to be worked on
  • Links to Wikipedia and Google if you want more info about the particular radiographic finding.
What we don’t like:
  • Price, pretty expensive if you compare it to other more polished apps, notably the Blausen Human Atlas App.
  • In Quiz mode you can’t zoom in on the images
  • The Wikipedia and Google links open in Safari, not within the app, so you have to open up the app again and scroll to your previous selection (not ideal).

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What we’d like to see in future updates:
  • A search feature would be essential.
  • Bookmarking your favorite images.
  • Having the ability to see the images in landscape mode.
  • More Lateral views, not just AP views. Ideally, we’d like the option to see the patient’s AP image paired with their Lateral image.
  • Continue to add more images

The Joslin Chest Atlas is truly an innovate medical app and definitely has the capability to improve your ability to read chest radiographs. We think the price of $14.99 is a bit high, especially since there are 78 images offered right now and the navigation needs to be worked on. However, if you’re a resident and you get an education/books stipend, then go for it.

We can’t emphasize how much potential this app has. This current version taps into some of this potential, but we can’t wait for the day when we open up this app and there are hundreds of images available. The developers of this application are open to healthcare providers sending them their own collection of radiographic images and we’d encourage users to do this. Until then, we’re looking forward to seeing more updates of this app.



Update: We forgot to list who we would recommend this app for(as we do in other posts): Healthcare providers in general, especially those who are fresh out of residency or training. Also a definite must have for residents.