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Look inside your patients’ hearts – DICOM viewer functionality for cardiac images

Since Valentine’s Day falls in February, this month is all about one vital organ: the heart. Don’t worry, we are not about to get all sappy and start discussing long-lasting love and soul mates. This piece, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, is going to tackle a more serious topic. February, with all its focus on Valentine’s Day, is also representative of another cause. It is Heart Disease Awareness month.

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A lot of recent media attention has focused on raising awareness about this deadly disease, and even A-list celebrities are backing the cause. Barbara Streisand, a notoriously private individual, has been the face of a very public campaign to raise money for heart disease in women. Thanks to her efforts, the Cedars-Sinai Heart Disease Center exceeded their goal, and raised $22 million to boost a regenerative-medicine research fund in an endeavor to fight heart disease. Streisand’s motivation radiates with validity.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for women worldwide. It currently claims the lives of more females than all cancers combined. For years, heart research was mostly done on men; but ironically, the symptoms of this deadly disease are much different in women, which is why it so often goes undetected. More money and research is required to tackle this killer, but let’s discuss what the medical world currently knows about heart disease detection.

As with most medical conditions, early detection greatly enhances the chances of a favorable outcome. With today’s current technology, there are multiple methods of imaging that can be utilized to diagnose heart disease such as CT heart scans, chest x-rays, and echocardiograms. The key for doctors is the ability to access both current and historical cardiology images for patients. Here are four viewer features we think are imperative in this specialty.

Mobile Accessibility: A viewer with an iPad app is a must in today’s online world. People expect access to data anytime and anywhere, and that mindset is seeping into the medical industry. With a mobile viewer, doctors have the ability to view and assess patients’ imaging from outside the office walls. In an emergency situation, access to cardiac images can save lives.

Hang Priors: If a related study for a patient exists in the system, it is helpful to have the ability to launch previous imaging work directly from the viewer. In DICOM Grid’s viewer for example, a link to the related study will load below beneath the thumbnails in the stack. This makes it simple to compare historical images to current ones in order to better assess any cardiac changes in the patient.

Reliable Cine Function: To view echocardiograms properly, a viewer must have a cine feature. Controlling the “frames-per-second” speed is a must. A cardiologist should have the ability to accelerate or decelerate how quickly the echocardiogram is being shown on the screen. Video support in HTML 5 compliant browsers improves the download time for cine data, and provides a consistent playback experience without the need to reload data.

Multiframe Hanging Protocols: With more and more specialists turning to online collaboration, it is important to ensure cardio images are being received in the intended format. With multiframe hanging protocals, you can configure echocardiograms to hang with a multiframe color doppler series in the top left, an aortic valve view in the top right, etc. This avoids the need to manually load series and ensures the study opens exactly as intended each time.

Heart disease detection has come a long way, but there is still much research to be done. It is essential to utilize current technology to decrease the number of people killed by this deadly disease each year. This February take the pledge, and give yourself a chance to really look inside your patients’ hearts.

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Catherine Slotnick, Marketing Manager

About Catherine Slotnick

Catherine Slotnick is a passionate healthcare marketer with a deep interest in the latest & greatest in the Health IT space. As Ambra Health's marketing manager, Catherine primarily focuses on creating and sharing thought leadership content in the radiology and informatics space. Catherine graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Psychology & Art History. When she's not writing, she enjoys cooking and petting dogs that aren't hers.

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