The iLab is capable of generating 1-Gbyte images at 30 frames per second and features an accelerated archiving system, REV, which can store up to 35 Gbyte of data on a single disk.
Hospital imaging equipment, such as an intravascular ultrasound (IVUS) system, allows physicians to make treatment decisions by threading cameras up through a patient’s arteries to assess damage and explore treatment options. The resulting image file, usually 1 Gbyte, becomes part of a patient’s medical record—if the hospital has the means to store it.
Manufactured by Boston Scientific (Natick, MA; www.bostonscientific.com), the iLab is a portable IVUS unit used for diagnosing and treating blocked vessels and heart disorders as well as for sizing drug-eluting stents. IVUS images allow doctors to view the size of an opening in a clogged artery and the amount of build-up so they can determine with what size stent to treat the patient.
The iLab is designed to deliver ultrasound images at 30 frames per second. But because of the large size of these image files, the company realized the need to explore available high-capacity, removable storage systems. Small-capacity CDs and DVDs and slow-to-process magneto-optical drives were ruled out as options. REV technology from Iomega (San Diego, www.iomega.com), however, was not only able to meet the capacity and accelerated processing requirements of the IVUS system, but was also available in two formats: as an internal hard drive or external portable drive. Boston Scientific decided to integrate the REV hard drive into its iLab system.
Each REV disk can store 35 Gbyte of information, or 35 Gbyte IVUS images. And, the REV system can archive each image in just three minutes. Previous image-archiving systems required as long as 20 minutes to archive each image onto a CD or DVD disk. Accelerated archiving process enables the equipment to be used more frequently and on a larger number of patients. “By decreasing the amount of time it takes to archive the images, it frees up the iLab system to be used for other patients,” says Jeff Bennett, group marketing manager, imaging, for Boston Scientific. “If the iLab is tied up in the archiving process, physicians may choose to skip an IVUS if they can get by without it,” he says. “That’s not what we like to see, but we know it happens. And in that particular case, a patient may not experience the best possible outcome because the physician couldn’t use the IVUS technology.”
Some hospitals, according to Bennett, store digital medical records on internal picture archiving communications systems or massive terabyte servers. Other hospitals don’t invest in long-term storage server space and instead amass a library of images on REV disks.
“We supplied our customers with an external REV drive to put onto whatever workstation the customer chooses,” says Bennett. “Customers can take the REV disk out of the iLab system to the computer that has the external reader, pop it in there, and then store those images on a server, or just keep them on the REV disks and open those up as needed.” The storage system also makes it easier for healthcare professionals to adhere to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which says patient data and images should be retained for up to 15 years.
The REV drive, like other hard drives, has a platter for storing data, heads to read the data, and the electronics necessary to complete those functions. “We separated some of those components so that the disk itself is just the storage media and the motor that spins it around,” explains Loren Bryner, global product manager, REV products. “All the heads and sensitive electronics equipment are inside the drive.”
Boston Scientific is exploring opportunities for employing the technology in other imaging systems as well. “There are other applications using imaging technology [such as peripheral coronary devices] where we still will need to have a rapid archiving process to save the images as part of the medical records,” Bennett explains.