Previously medical professionals often relied on clinical guides such as the Pocket Medicine series to provide them with clinical information as well as help them to solve medical problems. Though these publications are still used, it can be difficult for them to keep up with the latest medical information. In recent years, mobile technology has changed the dynamic of how medical professionals get their information — as we recently saw in a study on how medical apps are being used by primary care physicians.
The popularity of smartphones and tablets has proven to be instrumental as developers have released apps designed to not only provide the latest medical information but improve functionality within the medical community. The University of Wisconsin Radiology Department is making its presence known with the recently released free iOS app GadCalc for physicians and MRI technicians.
We recently reviewed another Radiology app that was made by practicing physicians to help family medicine and internal medicine physicians decide on what type of radiology tests to order — Radiology Consult.
Gadolinium is a metal element that is commonly used as a contrast agent during Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) procedures. It is a common choice because it helps to make tissues in the body easier to see. Gadolinium is FDA approved as an MRI contrast agent and poses no problems for most patients. However, the UW Department of Radiology led by Dr. Scott Reeder wanted to come up with a way to help ensure that the drug was administered safety, and the gadolinium dose calculator was born.
The app allows users to calculate MRI contrast agent doses. A disclaimer on the University website reminds users that the results obtained are solely guidelines for physicians and MRI technicians and are not a substitute for a medical evaluation by a qualified medical professional. Users have ten contrast agents to choose from. The concentration (M), as well as the standard dosage amount (mmol.kg), is listed for each agent. Once they select the agent of their choice, the next window allows users to change the dosage amount if needed and enter the weight of the patient in kg or lbs. After this background information is entered the app then produces the dosage volume recommended for the patient.
The GadCalc app takes it a step further and lists the equation used to obtain the dosage volume. Another option allows users to view the package insert for the contrast agent, which provides important medical information about the agent. Usage options, possible risks, dosage information, manufacturing information and even information about ongoing clinical trials are just a few of the things you will find listed.
Though this app may not be useful to all medical professionals, it is notable for several reasons. The first being that there aren’t any other apps like this available. Previously UW technicians relied on spreadsheets to help calculate the proper dosage amount.
Up until recently all of the Gadolinium agents had the same formulation and weight-based dose, so performing the calculations was pretty straightforward. With the release of three new gadolinium agents, with differing concentrations, the need arose for an updated method that could help to make sure that patients were receiving the correct dosage amounts.
In response to this need, Dr. Reeder developed a real-time calculator and released an online employee version initially. After the success of the employee version, he made it readily available to the general public on the University website and then his team developed and released the GadCalc app. Key features of the app such as its user-friendly interface and large font were designed for real world usage.
UW MRI technicians have so far found the app very useful and were quoted on the University website as saying “We use it every scan.” The fact that the initial purpose of this app was to improve the daily work life of UW technicians but has grown from just a University project to a public medical app is notable in itself.
Disclaimer: Per the description, this app is only made to be used by the Radiology Department that created this app — you should only use this app if it’s approved to be used by your own institution.
By University of Wisconsin-Madison Shared Apps