E-learning branches into medical imaging

October 1, 2008

Cross-sectional medical imaging technologies such as CT and MR imaging have evolved and changed dramatically over the past few years. Multislice CT scanners and the latest generation MRI systems can produce excellent images of the human body with contrast between organs that is higher than previously possible.

Cross-sectional medical imaging technologies such as CT and MR imaging have evolved and changed dramatically over the past few years. Multislice CT scanners and the latest generation MRI systems can produce excellent images of the human body with contrast between organs that is higher than previously possible.

The use of 3D volume rendering, multiplanar reconstruction, and virtual endoscopy techniques has become more common. This evolution has benefited morphological imaging greatly, opening up exciting new horizons for in vivo studies of anatomy.

At the same time, the Internet, high-bandwidth networks, and interactive multimedia software have facilitated development of new learning technologies. These technologies are valuable tools for collaboration, interactivity, simulation, and self-testing. Their capacity to provide on-demand adaptation has made customized learning affordable. The prominence of e-learning in corporate organizations and universities has also increased, thanks to the ability of the web to transfer knowledge around the globe in real-time. But creating an e-learning module has become more complex than usual teaching methods.

Our team of radiologists and medical informatics specialists strongly believe that interactive e-learning technologies have considerable educational potential in the field of medical imaging. Most anatomy is currently learned from books or websites that contain a limited number of drawings and cross-sectional images. We decided to provide an anatomy atlas that took advantage of breakthroughs in high-resolution cross-sectional imaging and employed a familiar user-friendly interface.

We selected more than 1500 high-quality images from CT and MRI examinations to create our interactive online anatomy atlas. This atlas (www.e-anatomy.org) includes MR images of the shoulder, knee, ankle, upper and lower limbs, brain, and female pelvis, and CT images of the chest, cardiac region, coronary arteries, abdomen, pelvis, and face. These images are labeled using the latest Terminologia Anatomica.

The software was created using Adobe Flash. The interface allows users to cine through multislice images combined with interactive textual information, 3D models, and anatomical drawings. The mouse may be used to scroll through different cross-sections and to change plane views, weightings, and anatomical structures.

E-anatomy is free of charge and is receiving more and more visitors every day. Most visitors to the site are radiologists, physicians, radiographers, or medical students. E-anatomy received scientific awards from both the French Society of Radiology and the Radiological Society of North America congresses in 2007.

Another e-learning project we have been involved with is e-MRI (www.e-mri.org), which received a Certificate of Merit at the RSNA 2005 meeting. It demonstrates how Flash animations can be used to teach MRI physics.

The deployment of digital imaging networks, PACS, teleradiology, and Internet services suggests that e-learning will become a common source of education in medical imaging, particularly for young physicians and students who are comfortable using the Internet and computers in their studies.

DR. HOA is an attending radiologist at Montpellier University Hospital in France and CEO of IMAIOS, a medical e-learning company.