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ASU, Mayo develop imaging tracking system

December 17, 2010

With the help of ASU, researchers at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, have developed a new imaging exam tracking system that provides a comprehensive view of a patient’s radiation exposure over time. Believed to be one of the first of its kind, the computerized tracking system can replace time-consuming manual tracking processes used in many medical centers.

The DICOM Index Tracker (DIT) tracks all the information available in the images contained in a patient’s imaging studies (including dose, scanner utilization and other information) and compiles it into an accessible format.

A team led by ASU's Teresa Wu, associate professor, and Muhong Zhang, assistant professor, both in the School of Computing, Informatics and Decision Systems Engineering, collaborated with the Mayo Clinic Department of Radiology to develop an enterprise tool for real-time radiation dose tracking. The system automatically retrieves information and can be used as a tool for quality assurance, skin dose map generation and equipment efficiency assessment, Wu said.

In the past 20 years there has been a migration to digital imaging for medical tests and, as a result, patient records contain a fairly accurate history of the radiation doses they’ve received. Yet, accessing dosage amounts from medical records had to be done manually and there has been a struggle to collect all of this information into a central repository. At the same time, the need to track dosages has become greater because of efforts within the medical community to lower radiation doses over time.

DIT centralizes digital image information from tests such as mammography, CT scans, nuclear medicine and cardiac catheterization. The information then can be sorted by patient or procedure to assess the radiation dose and the number of treatments. Equally important, the system has alerting features built in to ensure dosages are within limit guidelines.

“For the first time we can monitor all the patient records in a centralized fashion, and we can review quality assurance guidelines efficiently and conveniently,” said William Pavlicek, chair, Section on Diagnostic Physics at Mayo Clinic in Arizona, who led the research group. “The benefit for the patient is consistency and continuing to provide an environment that is completely safe, which includes the feeling that they are receiving the minimum amount of radiation to achieve a diagnosis.”