The Advanced Image Analysis Laboratory in the Radiology Department at Children's Hospital Boston allows radiologists, nuclear medicine physicians and referring clinicians to maximize utilization of the data obtained from computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and nuclear medicine exams. The three-dimensional models, fused images and other advanced post-processing methods improve patient care by aiding diagnosis, treatment planning and surgical intervention. The images can also be used for patient-friendly explanations and answering research questions.
Modern CT and MRI scanners generate large amounts of data. Using this data, we are able to produce volumetric (three-dimensional) images of all parts of the body. In addition, we can analyze the images to derive clinically useful measurements and visualizations that can be used to plan surgical approaches and evaluate treatment response. Some of these images allow clinicians to better visualize a patient's anatomy using only one or a few images, and are important in diagnosis, treatment and surgical planning. They convey critical information that supplements the review of hundreds of individual 2D slice images.
Another important area where the lab will help patient management is image fusion. Currently, we are able to generate functional images using radionuclides on the PET scans or using bloodflow-dependent techniques on the MRI scanner. The ability to fuse this information with the structural images has been shown to improve our understanding of diverse disorders like epilepsy, neoplastic disorders, trauma and infection. There is a dearth of good software that can enable simultaneous fusion of multiple modalities like CT, MRI and PET in a layered manner. With the help of software developed by the Computational Radiology Laboratory, we have started offering multimodality fusion to our Epilepsy Program and plan to extend this service to other referrers in the near future.
In addition to clinical utility of the lab, there is an opportunity for research. There is a large amount of information in imaging studies that can be used to provide value-added services, above and beyond the clinical question posed by the referring physician. For example, when a child gets repeated MRI exams of the brain during infancy and childhood, there is value in seeing the changes in volume of the brain parenchyma, development of the white matter connectivity and the differences in the areas of activation in the brain caused by similar stimuli at different ages. A normative database containing this information may be used to identify causes of conditions as diverse as speech delay, autism spectrum disorders and developmental delay. Studies using this kind of longitudinal data can be planned using the facilities in the new image analysis lab.
If you need an advanced image analysis along with a routine CT, MRI or nuclear medicine study, you must place an order for it. While some studies like CT angiograms and MR angiograms include post-processing as part of the study, additional charges apply for advanced post-processing for other cases. Please contact the lab for details regarding a specific case.
The images may be viewed as separate series within your patient's CT, MRI or nuclear medicine study on PACS.
Sanjay P. Prabhu, MBBS, MRCPCH, FRCR
Director, Radiology Image Analysis Lab
S. Ted Treves, MD
Director, Division of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging
Edward Y. Lee, MD, MPH
Division Chief, Thoracic Imaging
Donna Agahigian, RT(R)(CT)
Assistant Chief, CT Scan
Kathleen Brown, RT
Staff Technologist, MRI
Advanced Image Analysis Laboratory
Radiology Main 2 (MA216.4)
More information: childrenshospital.org/advancedimaging
To order studies: 617-355-0766