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Diabet Med. 2005 Jun;22(6):794-802.

Quality assurance for diabetic retinopathy telescreening.

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Siemens MED, Erlangen, Germany.



TOSCA was an EU-Commission supported international research project designed to develop telescreening services in diabetic retinopathy and glaucoma. This paper describes the quality assurance methods developed for the diabetic retinopathy telescreening service within the TOSCA project.


The study was performed in 1895 patients with diabetes between 2000 and 2002 at diabetic retinopathy screening sites in five European countries. Data were analysed centrally.


Patients attending each clinic's diabetic retinopathy screening service received standardized retinal photography. The images and associated data were transferred electronically to a remote location for grading. Each photographer uploading images and each grader downloading images for assessment was controlled by a systematic quality management approach. The quality assurance measures defined were image quality, intragrader reliability. A cockpit chart was developed for the management and presentation of relevant results and quality measures. For the intragrader reliability tests, 10% of the images were processed for a second grading. An algorithm for calculating differences between repeated gradings was developed.


The assessment of image quality for the different sites showed that only 0-0.7% were unassessable. One hundred per cent agreement for both gradings was achieved in 50-85% of graded cases, depending on site and grader, and an agreement better than 95% in 71-100% of cases.


A telemedicine-supported quality assurance process is practical and advantageous. The cockpit charts have proven to be useful tools when monitoring the performance of a telescreening service. Grader feedback showed high satisfaction with the quality assurance process.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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