The Medical Imaging Interaction Toolkit: challenges and advances : 10 years of open-source development

Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2013 Jul;8(4):607-20. doi: 10.1007/s11548-013-0840-8. Epub 2013 Apr 16.


Purpose: The Medical Imaging Interaction Toolkit (MITK) has been available as open-source software for almost 10 years now. In this period the requirements of software systems in the medical image processing domain have become increasingly complex. The aim of this paper is to show how MITK evolved into a software system that is able to cover all steps of a clinical workflow including data retrieval, image analysis, diagnosis, treatment planning, intervention support, and treatment control.

Methods: MITK provides modularization and extensibility on different levels. In addition to the original toolkit, a module system, micro services for small, system-wide features, a service-oriented architecture based on the Open Services Gateway initiative (OSGi) standard, and an extensible and configurable application framework allow MITK to be used, extended and deployed as needed. A refined software process was implemented to deliver high-quality software, ease the fulfillment of regulatory requirements, and enable teamwork in mixed-competence teams.

Results: MITK has been applied by a worldwide community and integrated into a variety of solutions, either at the toolkit level or as an application framework with custom extensions. The MITK Workbench has been released as a highly extensible and customizable end-user application. Optional support for tool tracking, image-guided therapy, diffusion imaging as well as various external packages (e.g. CTK, DCMTK, OpenCV, SOFA, Python) is available. MITK has also been used in several FDA/CE-certified applications, which demonstrates the high-quality software and rigorous development process.

Conclusions: MITK provides a versatile platform with a high degree of modularization and interoperability and is well suited to meet the challenging tasks of today's and tomorrow's clinically motivated research.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Computer Systems*
  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Software*
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • User-Computer Interface*