Three University Hospitals and a software technology provider are partnering with the Entice Technology Transfer Nodes (TTN) co-ordinator in a project, called CAMRA, for the improvement of Cardiac Magnetic Resonance Analysis. The hospital end-users aim to optimize cardiac diagnosis through the combination of high performance computing with low cost analysis of magnetic resonance (MR) images. The project team is using multi-processor PC-compatible systems, that run under Windows NT, to turn Mayo Clinic's ANALYZE software into an enhanced analysis programme. For this purpose, the computer specialists are parallelizing existing serial algorithms, which will eventually allow the physician to shift from qualitative to quantitative image interpretation.
The availability of high quality cardiac images is very important in order to detect the origin, causes and symptoms of heart disease. Current imaging methods unfortunately lack accuracy and often include the risk of ionising radiation. On the other hand, the non-invasive Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) technique constitutes a much safer practice but usually stays limited to qualitative interpretation. To define the exact volume of blood that is pumped by the heart, for instance, the doctor has to make a quantitative diagnostic analysis. This type of examination requires automatic processing of scanner data by use of complex algorithms performed on robust systems.
Since the hospital radiology departments don't dispose of this infrastructure, the application of High Performance Computing and Networking (HPCN) can provide an excellent solution. The combination of HPCN with MRI allows the physician to perform image analysis in a clinically acceptable time frame and come up with diagnostic results while the patient hasn't left the scanner yet. CAMRA thus constitutes a cost-effective but quality improved approach with regard to patient care. The TTN HPCN-specialists are working together with CNSoftware to run the ANALYZE package on a parallel platform. CNSoftware has a large experience in advanced 3D medical imaging and is the exclusive owner of the European distribution rights for Mayo's ANALYZE software.
Two British health facilities and one Finnish hospital are responsible for the assessment of the CAMRA procedure in clinical conditions. Addenbrooke's Hospital is part of the University of Cambridge Clinical School to which it constitutes an important teaching partner with a great expertise in the field of cardiovascular MRI. Addenbrooke's has provided the CAMRA team with useful test data and will also play a major role in promoting the project's end-products within the clinical community. The United Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust (ULTH) is associated with the University of Leeds and hosts the Leeds General Infirmary (LGI). LGI disposes of a renowned supra-regional adult and paediatric cardiac MR centre, equipped with state-of-the-art imaging systems.
LGI has a reputation to defend in the treatment of patients with congenital and ischaemic heart disease. This type of cardiac failure requires evaluation of the left and right ventricular volume, as well as wall motion and function. The CAMRA procedure will substantially reduce the processing time needed to produce the necessary measurements and resolve the currently existing bottlenecks in the scanning schedules. The Medical Imaging Centre (MIC) of Turku University Hospital consists of an enormous Radiology Department, which is specialized in digital imaging. MIC's Radiology Division is the only one in the whole of Finland to both perform all cardiac angiography and therapeutic procedures. MIC has played a pioneering role in the use of high performance networks for digital data transmission of medical images.
Addenbrooke's, Leeds and Turku all three will benefit as end-user partners from the early access, offered by the CAMRA project, to leading-edge cardiac MRI analysis tools which ideally will correspond to their specific needs, since the three hospital facilities have been involved in the project from the very beginning in September 1997. The CAMRA initiative will come to an end in mid November 1998. We invite you to take a look at the VMW April issue for more background information on the ANALYZE biomedical image analysis package. If you need more details on the project, please consult the CAMRA Web site.