TeraRecon targets multislice CT for its processing software

September 1, 1999

Visualization firm also plans to develop an HISMultislice CT studies generate an enormous amount of image data, producing four slices for every turn of the gantry. To handle the demanding image viewing and processing requirements of multislice CT

Visualization firm also plans to develop an HIS

Multislice CT studies generate an enormous amount of image data, producing four slices for every turn of the gantry. To handle the demanding image viewing and processing requirements of multislice CT studies, and allow this imaging modality to reach its potential, CT vendors need to incorporate advanced image processing technology.

One company hoping to fill that niche is Japanese-owned visualization firm TeraRecon, which is developing advanced systems and subsystems for this burgeoning image modality. The firm has developed processing tools that support on-the-fly, real-time slice reconstruction and volume reconstruction.

TeraRecon is no stranger to the medical imaging industry. The company is working behind the scenes as a partner with Imatron (SCAN 8/20/97), providing the data processing system integrated with that company’s Ultrafast CT system. TeraRecon has also allied with Hitachi Medical Systems in its development of a rotational angiography scanner. In both instances—Ultrafast CT and rotational angiography—huge quantities of data must be acquired, processed, and reconstructed into medical images.

TeraRecon now hopes to build on that experience to provide a range of products targeted at the multislice CT sector, as well as other digital modalities such as MRI and digital x-ray. Some technologies will be developed for OEMs, while others will be sold directly to healthcare practitioners.

TeraRecon, which maintains a U.S. office in San Mateo, CA, will first develop an image reconstruction system to be sold to developers of multislice CT systems. Next the company plans to introduce a stand-alone visualization system for sale to end users.

In an interesting twist, company engineers are also developing electronic patient record software that will hold all relevant patient data, as well as 2-D and 3-D imaging data sets. This hybrid PACS/patient record will be fitted into the next level of technology coming out of the company, a hospital information system. Ultimately, this HIS will work with a custom-made Internet-based system for exchanging patient information.

“We really want to achieve a kind of synergy from the integration of technologies,” said Dr. Motoaki Saito, president and CEO of TeraRecon. “In doing that, we believe we can create a totally new modality unto itself.”

At this year’s RSNA meeting, the company expects to unveil an advanced HIS network protocol that will handle multiple layers of data regardless of their origin. Although the company is focused heavily on multislice CT, the protocol will allow the handling of any digital data set, including 3-D ultrasound. Saito says the technology is being designed to handle full-frame, high-resolution cine data up to 30 frames per second. Function analysis tools for assessing cardiac data will be included.

Prior to this fall’s RSNA show, Imatron plans to release IiVS (integrated image viewing station) 320, a network-ready, DICOM-compatible workstation that uses a Silicon Graphics 320 computer. Key capabilities will include multi-object setting and reporting, based on a patent-pending process developed by TeraRecon. With this capability, the user will be able to set threshold, color, opacity, and regional parameters when viewing image data sets. Report formats will also be customizable, allowing the operator to output DICOM files, for example, or a JPEG image. Editing tools will allow text and figures to be overlaid into a clinical report.

The operator will also be able to control the way images and data are displayed. The technology is designed to allow presentation of either a single image or two images side-by-side. Alternatively, smaller windows can be stationed along the top and side of the main image. These may be presented as 2-D slices, for example, with a 3-D rendering in the center. The system will be able to support high-frame-rate cine images, even virtual endoscopy, while offering 2-D or 3-D views that provide positioning data to help orient the operator of the scanner.

TeraRecon plans to aggressively price this workstation, listing it at $50,000 or less. If additional computing power is needed, the buyer will have the option of upgrading to the SGI 540 workstation. To bring the price point down, TeraRecon hopes eventually to be able to port many of its processing tools to Pentium III-powered PCs, as well. This would be accomplished through the use of plug-in boards, which would boost the power of these computing platforms enough to run TeraRecon’s sophisticated software, Saito said. Similar boards and accompanying software are being developed for inclusion in CT scanners to support on-the-fly display, he said.