As hospitals move towards providing in-house 24 × 7 services, there is an increasing need for information systems to be available around the clock. This study investigates one organization’s need for a workflow continuity solution that provides around the clock availability for information systems that do not provide highly available services. The organization investigated is a large multifacility healthcare organization that consists of 20 hospitals and more than 30 imaging centers. A case analysis approach was used to investigate the organization’s efforts. The results show an overall reduction in downtimes where radiologists could not continue their normal workflow on the integrated Picture Archiving and Communications System (PACS) solution by 94 % from 2008 to 2011. The impact of unplanned downtimes was reduced by 72 % while the impact of planned downtimes was reduced by 99.66 % over the same period. Additionally more than 98 h of radiologist impact due to a PACS upgrade in 2008 was entirely eliminated in 2011 utilizing the system created by the workflow continuity approach. Workflow continuity differs from high availability and business continuity in its design process and available services. Workflow continuity only ensures that critical workflows are available when the production system is unavailable due to scheduled or unscheduled downtimes. Workflow continuity works in conjunction with business continuity and highly available system designs. The results of this investigation revealed that this approach can add significant value to organizations because impact on users is minimized if not eliminated entirely.
Workflow continuity; Business continuity; PACS planning; PACS integration; PACS downtime procedures; PACS administration; PACS; PACS service; Software design; Systems integration; Workflow; Productivity; Management information systems; Information system; Image retrieval; Health level 7 (HL7); Efficiency
Surgeons use information from multiple sources when making surgical decisions. These include volumetric datasets (such as CT, PET, MRI, and their variants), 2D datasets (such as endoscopic videos), and vector-valued datasets (such as computer simulations). Presenting all the information to the user in an effective manner is a challenging problem. In this paper, we present a visualization approach that displays the information from various sources in a single coherent view. The system allows the user to explore and manipulate volumetric datasets, display analysis of dataset values in local regions, combine 2D and 3D imaging modalities and display results of vector-based computer simulations. Several interaction methods are discussed: in addition to traditional interfaces including mouse and trackers, gesture-based natural interaction methods are shown to control these visualizations with real-time performance. An example of a medical application (medialization laryngoplasty) is presented to demonstrate how the combination of different modalities can be used in a surgical setting with our approach.
Volume visualization; Human–computer interaction; Volume rendering; Image-guided surgery
This study evaluated a method to maintain the optimal image quality in clinical practice for image quality management in a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) that uses typical technology for digital medical images. This study conducted a survey of 25 hospitals in Seoul and metropolitan areas that had installed PACS to examine the reality of image quality management. Sixteen diagnostic monitors were used as calibration tools to compare and analyze the external illuminance uniformity and grayscale standard display function (GSDF) values at each frequency. According to the survey results, most of the hospitals did not have any particular rules or standardized methods for image quality control. In a PACS, the calibration frequency was examined within the allowable limits of error for each week and month. The calibration was not affected by the difference in brightness of the environment for reading an image. The GSDF measurement values were quite different from the standard values. In conclusion, to improve the image quality of the digital system, it is important to make good use of the system and maintain the image quality. Therefore, it is critical to capitalize on the method suggested in this study and maintain the optimal image quality to guarantee a high level of observer satisfaction.
PACS; Korean hospital; Image quality
This paper presents an adaptive denoising approach aiming to improve the visibility and detectability of hemorrhage from brain computed tomography (CT) images. The suggested approach fuses the images denoised by total variation (TV) method, denoised by curvelet-based method, and edge information extracted from the noise residue of TV method. The edge information is extracted from the noise residue of TV method by processing it through curvelet transform. The visual interpretation shows that the proposed approach not only reduces the staircase effect caused by total variation method but also reduces visual distortion induced by curvelet transform in the homogeneous areas of the CT images. The denoising abilities of the proposed method are further evaluated by segmenting the hemorrhagic brain area using region-growing method. The sensitivity, specificity, Jaccard index, and Dice coefficients were calculated for different noise levels. The comparative results show that the significant improvement has yielded in the brain hemorrhage detection from CT images after denoising it with the proposed approach.
Curvelet transform; Total variation; Computed tomography
This paper is aimed at developing and evaluating a content-based retrieval method for contrast-enhanced liver computed tomographic (CT) images using bag-of-visual-words (BoW) representations of single and multiple phases. The BoW histograms are extracted using the raw intensity as local patch descriptor for each enhance phase by densely sampling the image patches within the liver lesion regions. The distance metric learning algorithms are employed to obtain the semantic similarity on the Hellinger kernel feature map of the BoW histograms. The different visual vocabularies for BoW and learned distance metrics are evaluated in a contrast-enhanced CT image dataset comprised of 189 patients with three types of focal liver lesions, including 87 hepatomas, 62 cysts, and 60 hemangiomas. For each single enhance phase, the mean of average precision (mAP) of BoW representations for retrieval can reach above 90 % which is significantly higher than that of intensity histogram and Gabor filters. Furthermore, the combined BoW representations of the three enhance phases can improve mAP to 94.5 %. These preliminary results demonstrate that the BoW representation is effective and feasible for retrieval of liver lesions in contrast-enhanced CT images.
Content-based image retrieval; Bag of visual words; Contrast-enhanced CT; Liver lesion; Distance metric learning
In this paper, we propose a novel technique for skull stripping of infant (neonatal) brain magnetic resonance images using prior shape information within a graph cut framework. Skull stripping plays an important role in brain image analysis and is a major challenge for neonatal brain images. Popular methods like the brain surface extractor (BSE) and brain extraction tool (BET) do not produce satisfactory results for neonatal images due to poor tissue contrast, weak boundaries between brain and non-brain regions, and low spatial resolution. Inclusion of prior shape information helps in accurate identification of brain and non-brain tissues. Prior shape information is obtained from a set of labeled training images. The probability of a pixel belonging to the brain is obtained from the prior shape mask and included in the penalty term of the cost function. An extra smoothness term is based on gradient information that helps identify the weak boundaries between the brain and non-brain region. Experimental results on real neonatal brain images show that compared to BET, BSE, and other methods, our method achieves superior segmentation performance for neonatal brain images and comparable performance for adult brain images.
Shape prior; Graph cuts; Neonatal; Brain; MRI; Segmentation; Gradient
The development of teleradiology brings the convenience of global medical record access along with the concerns over the security of medical images transmitted over the open network. With the prevailing adoption of three-dimensional (3-D) imaging modalities, it is vital to develop a security mechanism to provide large volumes of medical images with privacy and reliability. This paper presents the development of a new and improved method of implementing tamper detection and localization based on a fully reversible digital watermarking scheme for the protection of volumetric DICOM images. This tamper detection and localization method utilizes the 3-D property of volumetric data to achieve much faster processing time at both sender and receiver sides without compromising tamper localization accuracy. The performance of the proposed scheme was evaluated by using sample volumetric DICOM images. Results show that the scheme achieved on average about 65 % and 72 % reduction in watermarking and dewatermarking processing time, respectively. For cases where the images had been tampered, it is possible to detect and localize the tampered areas with improved localization resolution in the images using the scheme.
Image authentication; Medical data security; Tamper detection; Watermarking
This study aims to evaluate the utility of compressed computed tomography (CT) studies (to expedite transmission) using Motion Pictures Experts Group, Layer 4 (MPEG-4) movie formatting in combat hospitals when guiding major treatment regimens. This retrospective analysis was approved by Walter Reed Army Medical Center institutional review board with a waiver for the informed consent requirement. Twenty-five CT chest, abdomen, and pelvis exams were converted from Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine to MPEG-4 movie format at various compression ratios. Three board-certified radiologists reviewed various levels of compression on emergent CT findings on 25 combat casualties and compared with the interpretation of the original series. A Universal Trauma Window was selected at −200 HU level and 1,500 HU width, then compressed at three lossy levels. Sensitivities and specificities for each reviewer were calculated along with 95 % confidence intervals using the method of general estimating equations. The compression ratios compared were 171:1, 86:1, and 41:1 with combined sensitivities of 90 % (95 % confidence interval, 79–95), 94 % (87–97), and 100 % (93–100), respectively. Combined specificities were 100 % (85–100), 100 % (85–100), and 96 % (78–99), respectively. The introduction of CT in combat hospitals with increasing detectors and image data in recent military operations has increased the need for effective teleradiology; mandating compression technology. Image compression is currently used to transmit images from combat hospital to tertiary care centers with subspecialists and our study demonstrates MPEG-4 technology as a reasonable means of achieving such compression.
Compression; MPEG4; Universal trauma window; Combat trauma
The development cycle of an image-guided surgery navigation system is too long to meet current clinical needs. This paper presents an integrated system developed by the integration of two open-source software (IGSTK and MITK) to shorten the development cycle of the image-guided surgery navigation system and save human resources simultaneously. An image-guided surgery navigation system was established by connecting the two aforementioned open-source software libraries. It used the Medical Imaging Interaction Toolkit (MITK) as a framework providing image processing tools for the image-guided surgery navigation system of medical imaging software with a high degree of interaction and used the Image-Guided Surgery Toolkit (IGSTK) as a library that provided the basic components of the system for location, tracking, and registration. The electromagnetic tracking device was used to measure the real-time position of surgical tools and fiducials attached to the patient’s anatomy. IGSTK was integrated into MITK; at the same time, the compatibility and the stability of this system were emphasized. Experiments showed that an integrated system of the image-guided surgery navigation system could be developed in 2 months. The integration of IGSTK into MITK is feasible. Several techniques for 3D reconstruction, geometric analysis, mesh generation, and surface data analysis for medical image analysis of MITK can connect with the techniques for location, tracking, and registration of IGSTK. This integration of advanced modalities can decrease software development time and emphasize the precision, safety, and robustness of the image-guided surgery navigation system.
MITK; IGSTK; Image-guided surgery navigation; Development cycle; Open-source software; Integration
The use of color LCDs in medical imaging is growing as more clinical specialties use digital images as a resource in diagnosis and treatment decisions. Telemedicine applications such as telepathology, teledermatology, and teleophthalmology rely heavily on color images. However, standard methods for calibrating, characterizing, and profiling color displays do not exist, resulting in inconsistent presentation. To address this, we developed a calibration, characterization, and profiling protocol for color-critical medical imaging applications. Physical characterization of displays calibrated with and without the protocol revealed high color reproduction accuracy with the protocol. The present study assessed the impact of this protocol on observer performance. A set of 250 breast biopsy virtual slide regions of interest (half malignant, half benign) were shown to six pathologists, once using the calibration protocol and once using the same display in its “native” off-the-shelf uncalibrated state. Diagnostic accuracy and time to render a decision were measured. In terms of ROC performance, Az (area under the curve) calibrated = 0.8570 and Az uncalibrated = 0.8488. No statistically significant difference (p = 0.4112) was observed. In terms of interpretation speed, mean calibrated = 4.895 s; mean uncalibrated = 6.304 s which is statistically significant (p = 0.0460). Early results suggest a slight advantage diagnostically for a properly calibrated and color-managed display and a significant potential advantage in terms of improved workflow. Future work should be conducted using different types of color images that may be more dependent on accurate color rendering and a wider range of LCDs with varying characteristics.
Color displays; Diagnostic accuracy; Color calibration; Color management; Pathology
The objective of this study is to assess the impact on nodule detection and efficiency using a computer-aided detection (CAD) device seamlessly integrated into a commercially available picture archiving and communication system (PACS). Forty-eight consecutive low-dose thoracic computed tomography studies were retrospectively included from an ongoing multi-institutional screening study. CAD results were sent to PACS as a separate image series for each study. Five fellowship-trained thoracic radiologists interpreted each case first on contiguous 5 mm sections, then evaluated the CAD output series (with CAD marks on corresponding axial sections). The standard of reference was based on three-reader agreement with expert adjudication. The time to interpret CAD marking was automatically recorded. A total of 134 true-positive nodules, measuring 3 mm and larger were included in our study; with 85 ≥ 4 and 50 ≥ 5 mm in size. Readers detection improved significantly in each size category when using CAD, respectively, from 44 to 57 % for ≥3 mm, 48 to 61 % for ≥4 mm, and 44 to 60 % for ≥5 mm. CAD stand-alone sensitivity was 65, 68, and 66 % for nodules ≥3, ≥4, and ≥5 mm, respectively, with CAD significantly increasing the false positives for two readers only. The average time to interpret and annotate a CAD mark was 15.1 s, after localizing it in the original image series. The integration of CAD into PACS increases reader sensitivity with minimal impact on interpretation time and supports such implementation into daily clinical practice.
Radiographic image interpretation; Computer-assisted; Radiography; Thoracic; PACS reading; Clinical workflow; Lung; Efficiency; Computed tomography; Computer-assisted detection; Chest CT
The objectives are (1) to introduce a new concept of making a quantitative computed tomography (QCT) reporting system by using optical character recognition (OCR) and macro program and (2) to illustrate the practical usages of the QCT reporting system in radiology reading environment. This reporting system was created as a development tool by using an open-source OCR software and an open-source macro program. The main module was designed for OCR to report QCT images in radiology reading process. The principal processes are as follows: (1) to save a QCT report as a graphic file, (2) to recognize the characters from an image as a text, (3) to extract the T scores from the text, (4) to perform error correction, (5) to reformat the values into QCT radiology reporting template, and (6) to paste the reports into the electronic medical record (EMR) or picture archiving and communicating system (PACS). The accuracy test of OCR was performed on randomly selected QCTs. QCT as a radiology reporting tool successfully acted as OCR of QCT. The diagnosis of normal, osteopenia, or osteoporosis is also determined. Error correction of OCR is done with AutoHotkey-coded module. The results of T scores of femoral neck and lumbar vertebrae had an accuracy of 100 and 95.4 %, respectively. A convenient QCT reporting system could be established by utilizing open-source OCR software and open-source macro program. This method can be easily adapted for other QCT applications and PACS/EMR.
Computer in medicine; PACS; OCR; QCT; Reading room
The Certification for Imaging Informatics Professionals (CIIP) program is sponsored by the Society of Imaging Informatics in Medicine and the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists through the American Board of Imaging Informatics. In 2005, a survey was conducted of radiologists, technologists, information technology specialists, corporate information officers, and radiology administrators to identify the competencies and skill set that would define a successful PACS administrator. The CIIP examination was created in 2007 in response to the need for an objective way to test for such competencies, and there have been 767 professionals who have been certified through this program to date. The validity of the psychometric integrity of the examination has been previously established. In order to further understand the impact and future direction of the CIIP certification on diplomats, a survey was conducted in 2010. This paper will discuss the results of the survey.
PACS administration; Informatics training; Medical informatics applications
Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) is the dominant standard for medical imaging data. DICOM-compliant devices and the data they produce are generally designed for clinical use and often do not match the needs of users in research or clinical trial settings. DicomBrowser is software designed to ease the transition between clinically oriented DICOM tools and the specialized workflows of research imaging. It supports interactive loading and viewing of DICOM images and metadata across multiple studies and provides a rich and flexible system for modifying DICOM metadata. Users can make ad hoc changes in a graphical user interface, write metadata modification scripts for batch operations, use partly automated methods that guide users to modify specific attributes, or combine any of these approaches. DicomBrowser can save modified objects as local files or send them to a DICOM storage service using the C-STORE network protocol. DicomBrowser is open-source software, available for download at http://nrg.wustl.edu/software/dicom-browser.
Digital imaging and communications in medicine (DICOM); Workflow; Image viewer; Imaging informatics
In this paper, a novel lesion segmentation within breast ultrasound (BUS) image based on the cellular automata principle is proposed. Its energy transition function is formulated based on global image information difference and local image information difference using different energy transfer strategies. First, an energy decrease strategy is used for modeling the spatial relation information of pixels. For modeling global image information difference, a seed information comparison function is developed using an energy preserve strategy. Then, a texture information comparison function is proposed for considering local image difference in different regions, which is helpful for handling blurry boundaries. Moreover, two neighborhood systems (von Neumann and Moore neighborhood systems) are integrated as the evolution environment, and a similarity-based criterion is used for suppressing noise and reducing computation complexity. The proposed method was applied to 205 clinical BUS images for studying its characteristic and functionality, and several overlapping area error metrics and statistical evaluation methods are utilized for evaluating its performance. The experimental results demonstrate that the proposed method can handle BUS images with blurry boundaries and low contrast well and can segment breast lesions accurately and effectively.
Breast neoplasm; Image segmentation; Ultrasound; Cellular automata
The digital imaging and communications in medicine (DICOM) 3.0 standard was first officially ratified by the national electrical manufacturers association in 1993. The success of the DICOM open standard cannot be overstated in its ability to enable an explosion of innovation in the best of breed picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) industry. At the heart of the success of allowing interoperability between disparate systems have been three fundamental DICOM operations: C-MOVE, C-FIND, and C-STORE. DICOM C-MOVE oversees the transfer of DICOM Objects between two systems using C-STORE. DICOM C-FIND negotiates the ability to discover DICOM objects on another node. This paper will discuss the efforts within the DICOM standard to adapt this core functionality to Internet standards. These newer DICOM standards look to address the next generation of PACS challenges including highly distributed mobile acquisition systems and viewing platforms.
Web technology; Wide area network (WAN); Systems integration; PACS integration; Image distribution; Integrating healthcare enterprise (IHE); Internet technology; Enterprise PACS; Digital imaging and communications in medicine (DICOM)
In part one of this series, best practices were described for acquiring and handling data at study sites and importing them into an image repository or database. Here, we present a similar treatment on data management practices for imaging-based studies.
Clinical trials; Research image database
Mammography is the most efficient technique for detecting and diagnosing breast cancer. Clusters of microcalcifications have been mainly targeted as a reliable early sign of breast cancer and their earliest detection is essential to reduce the probability of mortality rate. Since the size of microcalcifications is very tiny and may be overlooked by the observing radiologist, we have developed a Computer Aided Diagnosis system for automatic and accurate cluster detection. A three-phased novel approach is presented in this paper. Firstly, regions of interest that corresponds to microcalcifications are identified. This can be achieved by analyzing the bandpass coefficients of the mammogram image. The suspicious regions are passed to the second phase, in which the nodular structured microcalcifications are detected based on eigenvalues of second order partial derivatives of the image and microcalcification pixels are segmented out by exploiting the foveal segmentation in multiscale analysis. Finally, by combining the responses coming out from the second order partial derivatives and the foveal method, potential microcalcifications are detected. The detection performance of the proposed method has been evaluated by using 370 mammograms. The detection method has a TP ratio of 97.76 % with 0.68 false positives per image. We have examined the performance of our computerized scheme using free-response operating characteristics curve.
Breast cancer; Computer Aided Diagnosis; Hessian matrix; Foveal segmentation
Although mammography is the only clinically accepted imaging modality for screening the general population to detect breast cancer, interpreting mammograms is difficult with lower sensitivity and specificity. To provide radiologists “a visual aid” in interpreting mammograms, we developed and tested an interactive system for computer-aided detection and diagnosis (CAD) of mass-like cancers. Using this system, an observer can view CAD-cued mass regions depicted on one image and then query any suspicious regions (either cued or not cued by CAD). CAD scheme automatically segments the suspicious region or accepts manually defined region and computes a set of image features. Using content-based image retrieval (CBIR) algorithm, CAD searches for a set of reference images depicting “abnormalities” similar to the queried region. Based on image retrieval results and a decision algorithm, a classification score is assigned to the queried region. In this study, a reference database with 1,800 malignant mass regions and 1,800 benign and CAD-generated false-positive regions was used. A modified CBIR algorithm with a new function of stretching the attributes in the multi-dimensional space and decision scheme was optimized using a genetic algorithm. Using a leave-one-out testing method to classify suspicious mass regions, we compared the classification performance using two CBIR algorithms with either equally weighted or optimally stretched attributes. Using the modified CBIR algorithm, the area under receiver operating characteristic curve was significantly increased from 0.865 ± 0.006 to 0.897 ± 0.005 (p < 0.001). This study demonstrated the feasibility of developing an interactive CAD system with a large reference database and achieving improved performance.
Computer-aided detection and diagnosis (CAD); Content-based image retrieval (CBIR); Breast cancer; Mammograms
Breast ultrasound (BUS) image segmentation is a very difficult task due to poor image quality and speckle noise. In this paper, local features extracted from roughly segmented regions of interest (ROIs) are used to describe breast tumors. The roughly segmented ROI is viewed as a bag. And subregions of the ROI are considered as the instances of the bag. Multiple-instance learning (MIL) method is more suitable for classifying breast tumors using BUS images. However, due to the complexity of BUS images, traditional MIL method is not applicable. In this paper, a novel MIL method is proposed for solving such task. First, a self-organizing map is used to map the instance space to the concept space. Then, we use the distribution of the instances of each bag in the concept space to construct the bag feature vector. Finally, a support vector machine is employed for classifying the tumors. The experimental results show that the proposed method can achieve better performance: the accuracy is 0.9107 and the area under receiver operator characteristic curve is 0.96 (p < 0.005).
Multiple-instance learning (MIL); Breast ultrasound (BUS) image; SVM (support vector machine); Classification