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Compression firm offers toolkit targeted for medical imaging uses


Compression firm offers toolkit targeted for medical imaging usesCompany sees benefit in radiology and cardiologyCompression company Pegasus Imaging has released PICTools Medical Compression Toolkit, a wide range of compression libraries

Compression firm offers toolkit targeted for medical imaging uses

Company sees benefit in radiology and cardiology

Compression company Pegasus Imaging has released PICTools Medical Compression Toolkit, a wide range of compression libraries that include formats such as wavelet and DICOM 3.0-compatible lossy and lossless JPEG schemes. Pegasus believes that the toolkit will make it easier for PACS software developers to realize the benefits of archive savings and increased image transmission time in their offerings.

In addition to image compression and decompression routines, PICTools includes image zooming, color reduction, and image conversion capabilities, according to the company. Pegasus also claims that its lossless JPEG routines decompress three times faster than comparable lossless JPEG codes available in the market.

Pegasus sees cardiologists as a key beneficiary of PICTools. With the firm's lossless JPEG compression scheme, cardiologists can experience speedy, full-motion playback of cardiac images without the need for added video compression hardware. A 512 x 512 image can be played back in full resolution at 44 frames per second, said Andrew Hudson, director of corporate development.

The company envisions that its wavelet compression schemes will have an impact in radiology, where 30:1 ratios are possible for radiographic images. For other modalities, 15:1 is suitable, Hudson said.

"These ratios provide a lot of value for either archiving purposes or compression of these images for transmission over bandwidth-limited media like the telephone or Internet," Hudson said.

The company also believes that its compression libraries will be employed in telemedicine applications such as telepathology. Futhermore, digital dental imaging systems could benefit from compression, Hudson said.

In addition to the company's JPEG and wavelet algorithms, PICTools also includes ePIC and IMStar, two proprietary compression methods that are valuable in situations where compliance to DICOM is not needed, Hudson said. The lossless IMStar scheme and lossy IMStar method offers higher compression ratios than the comparable lossless and lossy JPEG methods, Hudson said.

Formed in 1991, Pegasus Imaging has until recently focused primarily on providing compression and decompression solutions to customers in the multimedia photography and preprint markets. In late 1997, some of the firm's customers began applying the multimedia compression kit in healthcare applications, Hudson said. When those clients requested more features targeted towards medical imaging applications, the firm created PICTools.

PICTools is available for developer use on Windows 95, 98, and NT platforms. A wavelet-only version of PICTools for a Sun Solaris platform is also available, Hudson said. Pegasus has submitted the toolkit to the Food and Drug Administration for 510(k) clearance. For developer evaluation of the compression libraries, the company offers ViewMed, a Windows 95, 98, or NT-based application that allows users to assess performance and compatibility.

PACS software developers such as Medcon, RDI, Duke Medical Center, and Hershey Medical Center have signed on to use PICTtools. Several more clients will likely be announced soon, Hudson said. In addition, Pegasus is sponsoring a clinical trial at Hershey Medical Center studying the effects of wavelet compression on computed radiography images.

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