Purpose To examine the feasibility of a retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) telemedicine evaluation system of providing timely feedback to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) with at-risk premature infants. Methods This was a prospective observational study of premature infants with birth weights of <1251 g in five NICUs in the United States. Infants scheduled for clinically indicated ROP evaluations underwent indirect ophthalmoscopic examinations and digital imaging on the same day. Imaging was performed by nonphysician retinal imagers. Times required were determined from obtaining digital images of both eyes to submission via web-based system to a secure server for grading by trained readers at a central reading center to sending back grading results to the clinical center. Results A total of 1,642 image sets of eyes of 292 infants were obtained, from 823 imaging sessions. The mean turnaround time from submission of image sets of both eyes to return of the grading results to the clinical center was 10.1 ± 11.3 hours (standard deviation), with a median of 12.0 hours (1st quartile, 0.9 hours; 3rd quartile, 16 hours). Overall, 95.5% of gradings (95% CI, 93.9%-96.7%) were returned within 24 hours. Subgroup analyses found, for image sets submitted to the reading center before 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, median time to report was 1.7 hours (1st quartile, 0.7 hours; 3rd quartile, 15.5 hours) compared with those submitted after 2pm (median, 14.1 hours; 1st quartile, 11.2, hours; 3rd quartile, 16.3 hours). Conclusions An ROP telemedicine approach can provide timely feedback to the NICU regarding the detection of potentially serious ROP and thus referral to an ophthalmologist for examination and consideration of treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health