CHICAGO, November 29, 1999 — Researchers in the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine’s radiology department have developed a revolutionary technology to speed diagnosis and treatment of patients using equipment hospitals already have.
The technology, Dynamic Transfer Syntax (DTS), is a powerful, state-of-the-art medical image transmission and display method that can be implemented at any hospital equipped with regular PCs and an inexpensive NT server using existing Ethernet networks. DTS can be implemented at a fraction of the cost of Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS), the large and expensive technology now affordable to only a few, usually larger, hospitals.
Pitt researchers will demonstrate the technology this week in Chicago at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) conference today through Dec. 3. DTS has been used clinically with success at UPMC Presbyterian Hospital for more than 10 months and will be launched throughout University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospitals over the next several months.
"Doctors using DTS to access images can choose the level of image quality they need, including full fidelity, without $80,000-$100,000 workstations and expensive networks," said Paul Chang M.D., director of the division of radiology informatics at UPMC and developer of the DTS technology. "This is important for examining complicated and massively large image datasets such as CT or MRI studies. It is especially true for digital mammograms, where doctors must compare eight extremely large images (each up to 60 megabytes in size) side-by-side at very high resolution in order to detect changes in breast tissue that could indicate early signs of cancer. All eight images can be available to the doctor in full fidelity in less time using an inexpensive PC than a single image retrieved with PACS."
DTS will be attractive to hospitals because it is more scalable and powerful than PACS and can save them from spending hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of dollars on equipment, said Dr. Chang. "PACS requires very expensive hardware and networks to transmit and display images and it may take anywhere from five to 20 minutes for the images to appear on the screen. DTS accesses images stored on an inexpensive NT server via a standard PC using relatively inexpensive networks. Images are available in full fidelity immediately to users throughout the enterprise."
According to Dr. Chang, the lower cost of DTS will, for the first time, allow small hospitals to have state-of-the-art imaging transmission and display technology without having to spend millions of dollars on PACS. In addition, the unique collaboration capability of DTS will enable true real-time consultation by allowing a practitioner in a satellite facility to review images interactively with a specialist (or specialists) at a distant site.
"Because nearly every hospital has PCs available, the only cost to get DTS up and running is for the server. A good NT server can be purchased for less than $10,000," said Dr. Chang.
Stentor, Inc., a private company, is developing the technology for the healthcare market. Stentor is the first company funded by Caduceus, a biomedical venture capital fund of which University of Pittsburgh Medical Center is the principle sponsor.