Tissue MicroArray: a distributed Grid approach for image analysis

Stud Health Technol Inform. 2007;126:291-8.


The Tissue MicroArray (TMA) technique is assuming even more importance. Digital images acquisition becomes fundamental to provide an automatic system for subsequent analysis. The accuracy of the results depends on the image resolution, which has to be very high in order to provide as many details as possible. Lossless formats are more suitable to bring information, but data file size become a critical factor researchers have to deal with. This affects not only storage methods but also computing times and performances. Pathologists and researchers who work with biological tissues, in particular with the TMA technique, need to consider a large number of case studies to formulate and validate their hypotheses. It is clear the importance of image sharing between different institutes worldwide to increase the amount of interesting data to work with. In this context, preserving the security of sensitive data is a fundamental issue. In most of the cases copying patient data in places different from the original database is forbidden by the owner institutes. Storage, computing and security are key problems of TMA methodology. In our system we tackle all these aspects using the EGEE (Enabling Grids for E-sciencE) Grid infrastructure. The Grid platform provides good storage, performance in image processing and safety of sensitive patient information: this architecture offers hundreds of Storage and Computing Elements and enables users to handle images without copying them to physical disks other than where they have been archived by the owner, giving back to end-users only the processed anonymous images. The efficiency of the TMA analysis process is obtained implementing algorithms based on functions provided by the Parallel IMAge processing Genoa Library (PIMA(GE)2 Lib). The acquisition of remotely distributed TMA images is made using specialized I/O functions based on the Grid File Access Library (GFAL) API. In our opinion this approach may represent important contribution to tele-pathology development.

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Medical Informatics / organization & administration*
  • Tissue Array Analysis*