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OF DOCTORS & ENGINEERS Biomedical Imaging Techniques

Divya KS Rathore (Advanced Digital Imaging Solutions Laboratory, www.adislindia.com)

At the end of the day, we all realize that an apple a day is not enough and the doctor cant be kept away for too long. And once we actually visit one, most of us would take a radiologists prescription of getting an X-Ray, CT or MRI scan done for granted. As an Engineer, have you ever wondered why a Radiologist would prefer one of these options over the other? Overview The term biomedical images denotes digital images acquired from living beings that can be used to extract structural or functional information. From a diagnosis point of view, the basic difference between various imaging modalities is the kind of anatomy being targeted. Couple of most common Biomedical Imaging techniques are: 1. Ultrasound 2. X-Ray 3. Computed tomography (CT) 4. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 5. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) 6. Electroencephalography (EEG) 7. Positron emission tomography (PET) 8. Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) Ultrasound As the name suggests, this technique uses ultrasound waves to image various anatomies. Use of ultrasound in Obstetric and Gynecological, Abdominal, Vascular, Cardiac cases has been well proven. X-Ray Conventional x-ray radiography produces images of anatomy based on x-ray absorption. The x-rays are directed on the anatomy to be imaged. Basic underlying concept is that different parts of the anatomy absorb different amounts of x-rays. The x-rays emerging out from the anatomy are detected to form a two-dimensional image, where each point in the image has a brightness related to the intensity of the x-rays at that point. X-Rays are best suited to study bones and hard tissues. CT The CT scan is an extension of the X-Ray and uses multiple X-Ray images projected at multiple angles to create the final image. With proper software support, CT can produce a 3d representation of the target while X-ray is strictly two dimensional. CT is the preferred modality for diagnosing bleeding in the brain (injury), cancer, pneumonia, and abnormal chest x-rays. Lungs and chest cavity are best visualized using CT. Essentially, it can target tissues that are just a bit softer than the bones very well. MRI Unlike X-Ray and CT that use harmful rays to image various organs, MRI is completely non-invasive and uses an external magnetic field and pulsing radio waves and utilizes the water molecules present in the body. Due to this physics of the method, MRI is most capable to image very minute details of various anatomies and is extremely accurate. One of the greatest advantages of MRI is the ability to change the contrast of the images. Small changes in the radio waves and the magnetic fields can completely change the contrast of the image. Different contrast settings will highlight different types of tissue. This gives MRI the precision and

ability to image very soft tissues that CT cant differentiate. Brain Tumors are best diagnosed using MRI. fMRI fMRI relies on the paramagnetic properties of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin to see images of changing blood flow in the brain associated with neural activity. This allows images to be generated that reflect which brain structures are activated (and how) during performance of different tasks. Most fMRI scanners allow subjects to be presented with different visual images, sounds and touch stimuli, and to make different actions such as pressing a button or moving a joystick. Consequently, fMRI can be used to reveal brain structures and processes associated with perception, thought and action. [source: wikipedia] Electroencephalography Electroencephalography (EEG) is an imaging technique used to measure the electric fields in the brain via electrodes placed on the scalp of a human. EEG offers a very direct measurement of neural electrical activity. [source: wikipedia] Positron emission tomography Positron emission tomography (PET) measures emissions from radioactively labeled metabolically active chemicals that have been injected into the bloodstream. The greatest benefit of PET scanning is that different compounds can show blood flow and oxygen and glucose metabolism in the tissues of the working brain. PET scanning is , which in turn causes easily detectable changes in PET scans. To be noted is that the early damage is too diffuse and makes too little difference in brain volume and gross structure to change CT and standard MRI images enough to be able to reliably differentiate it from the "normal" case. [source: wikipedia] Single photon emission computed tomography Single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) is similar to PET and uses gamma ray emitting radioisotopes and a gamma camera to record data that a computer uses to construct twoor three-dimensional images of active brain regions. SPECT relies on an injection of radioactive tracer, which is rapidly taken up by the brain but does not redistribute. [source: wikipedia] Following images will help in understanding the difference in details that these imaging techniques are able to produce:

X-Ray

CT

MRI

Figure 1: Various Imaging Techniques give different levels of details

Where can Engineers contribute? There are various levels at which Engineers can contribute to the Medical Imaging industry. A nonexhaustive list would include electrical hardware manufacture, MRI Pulse programming, Digital Image/Signal Processing, software application programming, Algorithm development, Web programming for telemedicine applications etc.
A Short Note This note is mainly meant for Faculty taking their courses in Digital Image Processing or for Engineering Students undergoing their first courses in Digital Image Processing. We know that the best scientific algorithms are designed in the academic environment of the universities. Image Apprentice facilitates you by simplifying your learning curve. ADISL's Image Apprentice is a Microsoft Visual C++ based Image Processing Learner's Toolkit. Students use it as a companion to their favorite Image Processing Textbook. It allows one to use self-written image processing algorithms as plug-in. It comes with a Plugin Development Kit (PDK) that has a skeleton code having a simple coding style. A student who has attended a basic 101-level course in C++ programming is well-equipped to write an Image Processing plug-in for Image Apprentice using Microsoft Visual C++. To add to that, it has an active Plugin Developer Network where students from different Engineering Institutes submit and share their image processing algorithms, all with full source code, getting the due credit. The Architecture:

IA has a simple architecture and has 2 constituents: The application Image Apprentice and its Plugins. 1. Image Apprentice The Application is a basic viewer of single or multiple images. 2. Plugins - Plugins are compartmentalized components containing core Image Processing Algorithms. The user writes these plugins to extend the features of Image Apprentice. The plugins are the core strength of Image Apprentice.

Any code or library or Windows DLL written in C or C++ can be called inside a plugin making it an ideal coding kit as you can use any code library available to you. Plugins can be created using Image Apprentice Plugin Development Kit. This is a Microsoft Windows based software kit that can be compiled using any version of Microsoft Visual C++.