The Big Picture: Compression offerings should find solid niche

June 1, 1999

Compression offerings should find solid niche Compression offerings should find solid nicheThe use of lossy compression technologies in medical imaging remains a controversial subject, despite its widely touted benefits. The American College

Compression offerings should find solid niche

Compression offerings should find solid niche

The use of lossy compression technologies in medical imaging remains a controversial subject, despite its widely touted benefits. The American College of Radiology and the Food and Drug Administration have offered little in the way of useful guidance on this matter, and many conservative physicians remain unconvinced about lossy compression sche-mes, although several clinical studies have found no negative effects on the diagnostic content of images.

A breakthrough could be on the horizon, however, thanks to several interesting new applications of wavelet compression technology. At the 1998 RSNA meeting, the introduction of dynamic transfer syntax from a University of Pittsburgh team was the talk of the infoRAD area and exhibit halls (PNN 1/99). Another interesting wavelet- compressed image communication offering, called MrSID, was debuted by LizardTech at this year's SCAR meeting (see story, page 4).

The era of enterprise-wide PACS and Web-based image distribution requires rapid dissemination of large image files. Technologies such as DTS and MrSID, which use wavelet schemes to allow users to initially receive lower resolution images and access additional resolution or pixels on demand, offer the promise of dramatic performance improvements for these kinds of networks. Advances in networking technology will undoubtedly also help in this regard, but PACS users would be well served by overcoming any doubts they might have about employing lossy compression. The success of their large-scale PACS implementation may depend on it.

--Erik L. Ridley, Editor