Compression of Medical Images-Storing and Moving Huge Amounts of Data

Doctors need only make a phone call and the results of a computed tomography (CT) scan can be accessed via a business computer. Behind the scenes, massive amount of data have been compressed to create the images the doctor views on a computer screen. CT scans, along with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) scans create massive amounts of data. This data cannot be stored on a typical hard drive and the space required to store these images in a clinical setting would take up an entire wing of the hospital or more with current medical record retention laws. JPEG 2000 and JPIP are the medical answers to the compression of medical images.

JPEG 2000 and JPIP

JPEG 2000 was created by the Joint Photographic Experts Group in 2000. The compression format is used in many electrical devices, but it is the use of JPEG 2000 with DICOM standards that makes storage and viewing of medical imaging more reliable and wide-spread. DICOM, or digital imaging and communications in medicine, sets the rules for medical image coding and compression. Medical image files are encoded with patient information, for instance, to prevent lose patient information or separation of patient identity from medical images.

Streaming huge amounts of data and accessing medical images on the fly is made possible with JPIP. JPIP, or JPEG 2000 Interactive Protocol, can selectively download only a small portion of an image or shrink an image 1 Gigapixel in size to fit onto the screen of a smartphone. The technology is important to the doctor / radiologist relationship. X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans and PET scans can be saved on a secure hard drive and downloaded instantly from a clinical setting. If a doctor sees an area of concern, the image can be focused on that area with amazing clarity, while using only a small amount of bandwidth.