PowerPoint picks up DICOM, video solutions

January 28, 2003

PowerPoint is the most common tool used for presentations and conferences, and configuring the system for radiology-related purposes has become a cottage industry. Freeware can help with the task.

PowerPoint is the most common tool used for presentations and conferences, and configuring the system for radiology-related purposes has become a cottage industry. Freeware can help with the task.

One issue is DICOM.

"DICOM has become the standard method for image storage in medical imaging, and PowerPoint has become the standard software used for presentation at meetings. Yet PowerPoint does not support the direct display of DICOM images," said Dr. Masoom A. Haider, an assistant professor of radiology at the University of Toronto.

Users must go through a laborious conversion process that includes guessing the appropriate brightness and contrast to convert 16-bit DICOM images to 8-bit formats, he said.

Haider developed an ActiveX component that integrates DICOM and PowerPoint, bringing features of a DICOM viewer into a presentation.

"This adds functionality to PowerPoint through a PowerPoint Add-In and an ActiveX control," Haider said. "DICOM images can be placed on a slide as a stack and manipulated during slide design or at the time of presentation. The user can perform full 16-bit window leveling and crop/zoom of DICOM images."

The feature also enables scrolling through DICOM stacks. All images are stored in a companion folder in the same directory as the presentation, he said. Presentation can be moved from computer to computer, provided the ActiveX is installed on the host computer. A setup file must be run once on any host computer for PowerPoint to be extended to Provide DICOM support.

The current version of the system is available as a freeware beta release (http://www.radfiler.com/dicomppt.htm) with support of 12- and 16-bit monochrome DICOM images and limited support of 8-bit images. A full shareware release is expected in the next few months.

PowerPoint also lacks an easy way to include ultrasound video or capture files from digital cameras for presentation purposes.

"Videos in real-time from Doppler ultrasound and interventional radiology cannot be easily included in PowerPoint presentations," said Dr. Miguel Angarita, a radiologist at the Fundación Santafé de Bogotá in Colombia. "Almost every digital camera uses MPEG or QuickTime formats, which are not executable with PowerPoint."

Angarita cited several problems in trying to incorporate video formats in presentations:

  • Archives were not included in pack-and-go presentations.
  • Captured video format is not compatible with PowerPoint files.
  • Software to translate video formats is inadequate.
  • Adequate movie file size exceeds memory.

He recommends the following freeware and shareware to enable the use of videos in radiologists' PowerPoint presentations:

  • Microsoft Video Studio 6 video capture software (http://www.ulead.com/).
  • RealNetworks Helix Producer enables the creation of streaming media from PowerPoint slides and adds audio and video to the slides, creating multimedia presentations (http://www.realnetworks.com/products/producer/).
  • TinraGUI Free RealMedia to AVI Converter for Windows (http://guiguy.wminds.com/downloads/tinragui/down.html).