Custom-made viewer improves efficiency in reading MDCT scans

April 7, 2004

Display groups images by acquisition time Call it information overload. Call it the price of progress. But don't call it a done deal.The flow of data from multidetector CT scanners has challenged radiologists since the first MDCTs

Display groups images by acquisition time

Call it information overload. Call it the price of progress. But don't call it a done deal.

The flow of data from multidetector CT scanners has challenged radiologists since the first MDCTs were introduced six years ago. That flow is about to turn into an avalanche with the arrival of 32-, 40-, and 64-slice scanners. Dr. Hidekazu Hattori, a radiologist at Fujita Health University in Japan, is doing something about it.

Hattori has developed a soft-copy workstation that streamlines the process of viewing these images. Although specialized viewers for MDCT images exist, their operation is often complicated, distracting radiologists from concentrating on image interpretation and slowing down the overall diagnostic process.

"Most viewers sort image series by series number, which is arbitrarily determined based on the order of image generation," Hattori said. "The series number is not the order of image acquisition, however, so the order is not appropriate for the diagnostic process."

The image viewer he developed groups image series by acquisition time and sorts them by thickness, field-of-view, and reconstruction parameters. Managing images this way allows radiologists to quickly see how many scans were performed. The workstation also includes a special controller that enables users to rapidly scroll through MDCT images, make window adjustments, and do multiplanar reformatting and synchronized comparisons.

They can then view thick-slice images as a means of screening the study. When a lesion is found, thinner slice images can be viewed. The viewer also allows the display of DICOM images created by other workstations, such as 3D volume rendering.

The special controller offers several other advanced features designed to improve productivity. The paging speed can be changed three steps forward or back. A jog dial allows preset window values to be adjusted. These presets can be assigned to specific keys for quick selection of window values.

The viewer addresses challenges presented by MDCT, but can also be used in MR, leading to a smoother diagnostic interpretation due to the streamlined process of presenting images, Hattori said.