Medical imaging has witnessed tremendous advances in the last few years. 3D is rapidly becoming the new reality, and radiologists and clinicians are adopting a variety of new imaging technologies to implement 3D. For example, many institutions have embraced multi-detector CT (MDCT) scanners. The new scanners are not only fast, they also provide a completely new view into the human body and may enable physicians to better and more accurately diagnose a wide variety of conditions.  3D solutions, such as MDCT, however, do trigger a fair share of new challenges.

Zahi Fayad, Ph.D., associate professor of radiology and medicine (cardiology) and director of the imaging science laboratories and cardiovascular imaging research at Mount Sinai School of Medicine (New York City), explains, “MDCT isn’t like a chest x-ray. It generates a huge amount of data. Managing the data requires tools that are automated or semi-automated.” These scans generate hundreds of images, and it is virtually impossible for a radiologist to review each and every slice.

Elliot Fishman, M.D., professor of radiology and oncology and director of diagnostic imaging at Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, Md.), says the classic way for radiologists to read film images on PACS systems, reviewing the static axial source images, is becoming infeasible as multi-detector CT scanners can acquire hundreds and thousands of images per patient. There are too many images to review, and viewing static images does not take advantage of  all the image data that are available to be seen in the volume format. Finally, Fishman adds, the information acquired during the scan is of little value unless it’s in the hands of physicians who are directly treating patients.

Gordon J. Harris, Ph.D., director of 3D imaging service at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston), and associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School (Boston), agrees with Fishman’s assessment. He explains, “As the number of slices from the scanners increase, viewing and manipulating image data in 3D is not just clinically useful, but the only way to manage and thoroughly interpret the enormity of information.” According to Fayad, the radiology community needs to take a proactive stance. He says, “We in radiology need to change the way we review these scans. We need to take the bull by the horns and optimize workflow and set up.” For many of this country’s leading medical institutions that proactive solution is TeraRecon’s (San Mateo, Calif.) AquariusNET Server coupled with the Aquarius Workstation.

Please refer to the November 2002 issue for the complete story. For information on article reprints, contact Martin St. Denis