Pranav Shah, Sales Manager- India, Terarecon
There is need for advanced visualisation tools with PACS and 3D capabilities Remember the old days when modality workstation was the only means of advanced visualisation and volumetric analysis. The so called “workstation” was perceived as the most valuable resource and was the only means by which multi-slice CT, MRI and PET/CT procedures could be efficiently interpreted and reviewed. Most CT scanners come bundled with a 3D workstation offered as part of the package, and these workstations often have good software for providing 3D interpretation support.
Making advanced visualisation available to a broad enterprise poses some technological challenges. This is not like browsing the web where the processing power required is small and the data volume transferred is manageable. Modern MDCT datasets can run to gigabytes and the processing power needed to render them in real time 3D pushes the very limits of modern computing technology. As a result there is tremendous value in being able to avoid moving the large CT datasets around to multiple computers across the enterprise, and in being able to avoid reliance on the processing power of whatever computer may be available out there to do the 3D rendering itself.
This effectively turns every computer in the enterprise into a 3D workstation and if the power and feature set of the server is adequate, this becomes a really elegant, viable and cost-effective solution for delivering advanced image processing to everyone who needs it. A truly capable enterprise solution based on a client-server solution enables multiple users to use any networked standard PC as a 3D workstation and use various clinical applications for diagnostic interpretation and review. Nowadays with software innovation together with client-server architecture, allows automatic preprocessing of datasets. PACS with 3D capabilities in the system available today enhances workflow.
Volume Rendering technique
The key differences between the 3D technologies in the market relate to the technology used for 3D rendering and the general architecture of the system. When the CPU of a computer is used for 3D rendering, a general purpose processor designed for Microsoft applications performs a specialised medical imaging task, often with poor efficiency and performance, even when compromises are made in image quality. The same is true for GPU rendering, as “video cards” in most computers are mainly designed for computer games. These cards deal primarily with “polygon” graphics and typically do a poor job on anatomical data, with compromises in terms of performance and image quality.
As a result, such systems usually have to calculate additional information about every dataset that is received, just to prepare it for 3D rendering, which takes time, memory and CPU power, and the results must then be stored on the hard drive, consuming additional space. The alternative is to use a dedicated hardware processor specifically designed to perform medical visualisation where the slice data can simply be downloaded to the board’s memory without any delay or additional processing, with real time 3D following. Such a system can have the power and scalability to manage a true client-server deployment powerful enough for an imaging enterprise.