Background: Large-scale volumetric biomedical image data of three or more dimensions are a significant challenge for distributed browsing and visualisation. Many images now exceed 10GB which for most users is too large to handle in terms of computer RAM and network bandwidth. This is aggravated when users need to access tens or hundreds of such images from an archive. Here we solve the problem for 2D section views through archive data delivering compressed tiled images enabling users to browse through very-large volume data in the context of a standard web-browser. The system provides an interactive visualisation for grey-level and colour 3D images including multiple image layers and spatial-data overlay.
Conclusions: Interactive browsing of arbitrary sections through large biomedical-image volumes is made possible by use of an extended internet protocol and efficient server-based image tiling. The tools open the possibility of enabling fast access to large image archives without the requirement of whole image download and client computers with very large memory configurations. The system was demonstrated using a range of medical and biomedical image data extending up to 135GB for a single image volume.