In the Western countries as well as in Japan, the acquisition of 2D images by means of sonography has become a very popular imaging modality for clinical diagnosis. Yet, specialists in the medical fields of gynaecology, obstetrics, cardiology and radiology have an urgent need for more accurate visualization tools, provided by 3D systems. Unfortunately, current 3D applications require too much computational effort to be performed in real time. The use of open and cost effective high performance computing and networking (HPCN) techniques constitute a realistic solution to this problem. ProHPC, the French division within the Technology Transfer Nodes (TTN), has set up the Parsemed-3D project to demonstrate the value of a real time 3D reconstruction system for optimized medical diagnosis.
Since gynaecologists have been the first party to ask for a user-friendly method of 3D sonography in foetal medicine, the Parsemed team has started to build a client/server system for clinical use in the department of obstetrics. Today, the physician still has to grab 2D images by means of the ultrasound device to generate a movie. From this medical image collection, a 3D volume is reconstructed on a workstation destined to this purpose.
The whole procedure takes a minimum of five minutes so that the physician will probably have to repeat the process once again, since the obtained 3D image is not suitable and even irrelevant for diagnosis. This approach indeed is far too cumbersome for everyday medical practice. The Parsemed-3D system on the contrary is based on the implementation of advanced algorithms which are introduced on parallel computers. This kind of technology allows the generation of high quality 3D images in only a few seconds after the gynaecologist has grabbed the ultrasound scans.
In the second phase of the project, the team plans to provide interactive facilities for perfect visualization of the 3D images. Subsequently, the system will be installed in a hospital environment to assess the performance within real life diagnostic practice. As a result, the Parsemed demonstrator will be evaluated in February 1999 at the Bologna Hospital in Italy.
The project partners have decided to disseminate the final results towards medical specialists in the first place but also towards application fields in industries outside the health care sector which deal with time-consuming production of 3D data. For more information, please consult the home page of the Parsemed project.