TeraRecon seeks best-of-breed edge through preprocessing

June 13, 2007

The spearhead of a computing triumvirate is on the way from thin-client processing pioneer TeraRecon.

The spearhead of a computing triumvirate is on the way from thin-client processing pioneer TeraRecon.

Aquarius Advanced Processing Server (APS), released in the first quarter and now shipping, automates the tasks involved in reconstructing imaging data, such as segmenting and removing bone or detecting and highlighting centerlines. It is one of three components, along with validation and reading, of TeraRecon's iNtuition workflow architecture that is due for commercial release in September.

"APS allows the computer to do much of the work in advance, before the physician comes up to the plate," said Steve Sandy, TeraRecon vice president of marketing.

TeraRecon showcased the APS at the recent Society for Imaging Informatics in Medicine (SIIM) meeting as the means for automatically preprocessing data to fit the preferences of individual radiologists. It does the work that would otherwise require a skilled technologist, according to Sandy.

"We call it '3D tech in a box,'" he said.

Underlying the APS is the workflow architecture called iNtuition, which is designed to enable the validation and correction of automatically processed data by a specialist, such as a 3D technologist. The platform will support the use of advanced technologies at multiple locations throughout the network, allowing referring physicians to directly access the 3D results for therapy planning or patient consultation.

"With the validate component, the specialist takes the results off the computer and gets it perfect," Sandy said. "The read part allows anybody anywhere to look at the study."

The new architecture provides a common back end to the Aquarius thin client - the DICOM administration, communications, and HIPAA compliance software - and a front end with interfaces that allow access to the reconstructed data.

Aquarius is riding a wave in healthcare IT that is driving the imaging community toward more advanced processing and more efficient integration into the clinical workflow. CT is the prime force behind the adoption of 3D and other advanced techniques and will likely grow in power with the adoption of Siemens' dual-beam CT and Toshiba's coming introduction of a 256-slice scanner. But MR, particularly addressing the breast, brain and heart, will play a key role as well, according to Sandy.

How these forces will affect the imaging community will depend on two trends, one involving the consolidation of techniques in PACS, as in the integration of RIS and PACS, and the other focused on the use of best-of-breed IT offerings, such as TeraRecon's Aquarius portfolio. TeraRecon currently uses a "light integration" approach, allowing operators using a PACS worklist manager to launch its 3D reconstructions on a separate monitor. But consolidation offers the potential advantage of more efficiently using a single database.

"Our job is to continue to be the best of breed," Sandy told DI SCAN. But if consolidation wins out, TeraRecon has the wherewithal to adapt.

"It seems it would be easier for us to be a PACS company than for a PACS company to be a vendor like TeraRecon," he said.