One of the most surprising success stories at last month's European Congress of Radiology was the first meeting of the European user group for OsiriX, the open-source PACS workstation DICOM viewer for Macintosh computers. It was standing room only in the packed lecture hall on the second level of the Austria Center, and the organizers must have wished they had reserved a larger space.
Everybody loves something for free, and given the easy availability of this product, radiologists were clearly eager to find out whether it was relevant for them. Furthermore, Prof. Osman Ratib, chair of the radiology department and head of the division of nuclear medicine at the University Hospital of Geneva, was the keynote speaker. He is one of the founders of OsiriX and is a charismatic, inspirational, and entertaining person bursting with fresh ideas and original thoughts.
Another reason for the popularity of the event is that the product can help to improve communication between surgeons and radiologists. Its ability to create high-quality 3D images on a laptop seems to be proving a winner with surgeons.
"As surgeons, we are interested in spatial relations. We want to see in which direction there are malformations and how they are located in relation to each other. We want to plan the surgery," said Prof. Philippe Pellerin from Lille, France, in a revealing interview that can be downloaded free of charge at www.osirix-viewer.com.
It has been very hard to convince radiologists about the merits of 3D images, according to Pellerin. He suggests that some radiologists are preoccupied with "their" machines, and he fears they simply want to be left in peace to make their diagnosis using a sequence of 2D images, rather than thinking more deeply about how they can help other professionals. This may be a harsh generalization, but any tool that can boost teamwork and improve clinical decision making must be a good thing. Besides, learning to share may help radiologists maintain turf, and do it on their own terms.
To learn more about surgeons' imaging needs and expectations, you should turn to Liz Beckmann's article in this issue of DI Europe. The author is a former president of the British Institute of Radiology, and she has worked for many years building bridges between industry and radiologists.
In addition, please make some time to visit our online ECR 2008 Conference Report at DiagnosticImaging.com to discover who was making the headlines at the congress. You will find a wide range of reports, columns, and analysisall of which is completely free of charge, as usual. Look out for further news from the meeting in our May and June-July editions. The five-strong onsite editorial team thoroughly enjoyed covering the ECR, and we hope you enjoy reading our output.