Advanced Visualization in Medical Imaging
There is a consistent push for more productivity and improved cost-efficiency in healthcare. Although this impacts the entire medical field, it is especially relevant in radiology and diagnostic imaging. Advanced visualization tools in medical imaging are helping to improve current processes through implementation of features such as automation of redundant tasks, production of higher quality and multi-dimensional images, improvements in pre- and post-processing technology, and remote access through cloud data handling.
The use of advanced visualization tools and technology can optimize physician workflow and enhance collaboration among providers. This contributes to the ultimate goal of improving the ability to reach a more accurate diagnosis in less time.
A market research report predicted the advanced visualization global market to be valued at over $3 billion dollars by the year 2021. This same report predicted that the largest percentage of this amount would be in the clinical areas of radiology and interventional radiology, with a focus on MRI technology.
Features of Advanced Visualization
Advanced visualization tools allow for manipulation and reconstruction of medical images from modalities such as MRI or CT into more interactive 2D or 3D images. The ability to transform images and the use of 3D modeling may improve detection of subtle abnormalities or features that may have otherwise been missed or gone undetected. 3D modeling may also assist with aspects of treatment planning, such as surgical intervention and risk analysis. Four-dimensional image reconstruction that shows movement in real time is another possibility with advanced visualization, although less common. An example of this is visualization of fetal movement on an ultrasound.
Another feature of advanced visualization is pre-processing. This essentially includes any work that is done prior to the physician accessing the image to allow for easier analysis and to limit time spent on tasks that can be automated. Examples of pre-processing features include the ability to automatically load images in the background while the practitioner is working on other tasks or centering the images to make them more readable upon opening. Pre-processing technology is also capable of implementing algorithms that automatically apply a desired protocol to the images, such as protocols for different body parts or anatomical structures.
Pre-processing may help to limit redundant or predictable tasks. There are certain routine steps that a radiologist performs when accessing a medical image that advanced visualization tools can assist with to save time. These time saving tasks could include aspects such as automatic bone removal or sectioning part of the image for closer analysis (i.e. a portion of a blood vessel).
Not only can advanced visualization tools improve workflow processes, but they can help limit the amount of radiation a patient must be exposed to in order to obtain a clear diagnostic image. Technologies exist that improve the quality of medical images by reducing any excess noise that occurs when using lower doses of radiation. Because lower quality images can be transformed with post-processing, less radiation is required and diagnostic tests may not take as long. This saves times which is beneficial to both patients and providers. Less exposure to radiation is specifically important for patients who require more frequent and recurrent imaging, which is common in the case of brain aneurysm.
Decreased exposure to radiation isn’t the only benefit of advanced visualization tools for patients who require repeated imaging. Technology exists to simplify the process of tracking and monitoring lesions over time. This is done through access to tools that can identify, measure, and directly compare a lesion on the most up-to-date images with those found on any previous imaging studies. The provider is also able to comment or add annotation directly onto the images to be saved for future use or report generation. Advanced visualization technology can improve physician workflow by consolidating these tasks under a single platform.
Access to Advanced Visualization Tools
In the past, advanced visualization often required a specific workstation to be programmed with hardware to process the medical images. This is no longer the case as software integration and cloud storage are now allowing access to the processing tools and resulting images from a provider’s primary work station.
Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) are commonly used image storage systems that are often integrated with an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or Electronic Health Record (EHR). Advanced visualization tools are capable of being integrated directly into the PACS to further streamline the workflow for radiologists by allowing the reading and processing of images to occur on the same screen.
Advancements in visualization technology have also allowed medical images to be shared and accessed through HIPAA compliant cloud storage. The use of cloud storage allows authorized users to access the technology and images remotely from an approved device with internet access. This enhances the potential for improved collaboration among providers and easier access to the technology without needing to be present at one specific physical work station.
Software integration and easier remote access allow providers outside of radiology to have access to the same post-processed images and 2D/3D renderings which can be useful for aspects like surgical planning or patient consultations.
VasoGnosis VG-Recon is a web-accessible software technology for advanced visualization of vascular images obtained from MR or CT.
The software features pre- and post-processing technologies to improve workflow processes and tools to aid physicians with their interpretation and analysis of diagnostic vascular images. Further workflow acceleration is possible through the use of artificial intelligence algorithms and deep learning methods to automate processes such as lesion identification, measurement, and comparison with previous imaging studies. VG-Recon’s cloud-based platform allows approved users to easily access the technology from a web-accessible device.
For more information on VG-Recon, please visit VasoGnosis.com.
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