“Anders Ynnerman: Visualizing The Medical Data Explosion”

Anders Ynnerman: Visualizing the medical data explosion is a TED talk worth watching for anyone in medicine. Anders Ynnerman is a Swedish physicist who works on how to manage the excessive amounts of data generated with medical imaging.

According to him, CT scans 10 years ago produced about 100 slices with about 50MB of data (the equivalent of 40 phonebooks).  Today’s scanners produce around 24,000 slices with 20 GB of data (about 800 phonebooks).  The next generation of scanners is predicted to produce about 1TB of data per scan (about 800,000 phonebooks).  The challenge, since no one could possibly review that amount of detail, is to use graphics to visualize what is important.

Ynnerman’s lab has developed techniques to use graphic processors to convert the digital data to high resolution images that can then be selectively reviewed.  One example of their work is virtual autopsies (and a virtual autopsy table) used for forensic purposes.  Some of these images are a little disturbing, but the technology involved is incredible, and the implications for the future are just astounding.

Scan of a patient with scoliosis