Philips focuses on computing power to pave way for advances

August 28, 2006

Advances in computing power will reshape medical imaging, allowing the merger of diagnostic and therapeutic methods, according to Diego Olego, chief technology officer for Philips Medical Systems. The result will be expanded diagnostic applications and increased precision in targeting pathology for therapy.

Advances in computing power will reshape medical imaging, allowing the merger of diagnostic and therapeutic methods, according to Diego Olego, chief technology officer for Philips Medical Systems. The result will be expanded diagnostic applications and increased precision in targeting pathology for therapy.

Philips hopes to realize gains in image-guided applications for minimally invasive therapy, particularly oncology, through improved methods of image reconstruction and segmentation.

"Computing power is growing up and imaging quality will grow up with it," said Olego, who holds a Ph.D. in solid-state physics from Stuttgart University, Germany. "As we get MR and CT with more resolution, algorithms will become more sophisticated, and the result will be increased computing power, leading to more powerful clinical applications, such as perfusion analysis and quantification. So a very important underlying improvement is taking place in the application of information technology for clinical problems."

Specific improvements envisioned by Olego depend on the evolution of computing platforms. For example, better targeting involves first developing a way to correct for shifts in tissue location. Real-time imaging could address shifts due to respiratory and cardiac movement, just as matching preoperative images might account for changes that occur over time. Improved precision could come from advances in reconstruction and segmentation of organs, providing a better understanding of the pathology and surrounding tissue. These, in turn, depend on the development of mathematical models.

Computing platforms will pave the way for agents in nuclear medicine and MR that permit these modalities to make the leap to true molecular imaging. The key is developing pharmacokinetic models that support data interpretation, he said. Computing power and an increased understanding of the biological processes and chemistry of future agents will underlie this development.

"Understanding the dynamics of these agents will help us interpret images," he said. "We will use quantitative methods to help us interpret the kinetics of the agents and to determine the necessary dosage. You will see real progress in this in the next couple of years."