Objective: The goal was to develop a low-cost, national, neurosurgical emergency teleconsulting system that is independent of vendor computed tomographic (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanner type.
Methods: Charge-coupled device scanners are used to digitize hard copies of CT and MRI scans. An enhanced optical density range is achieved by using an algorithm to fuse data from multiple exposures at different integration periods. The system is based on personal computers using Microsoft Windows 3.11. Data are transmitted on a wide-area network at 128 kilobits/s, over Integrated Systems Digital Network lines. The network connects both neurosurgical departments in Ireland to all major hospitals with CT/MRI scanners.
Results: The scanner optical density is 0.05 to 3.0, with 2.24 to 2.5 line pairs/mm. Five-megabyte images are transmitted uncompressed in 6 minutes. To date, more than 750 CT and MRI scans have been transmitted. The system is completely automated, and operator acceptance has been very high. Images are automatically stored and displayed at the receiving workstation, where the images can be viewed and manipulated on-screen. This system has significantly enhanced acute neurosurgical patient care.
Conclusion: The system is cost effective and simple to use, has gained widespread physician acceptance, and delivers an image quality superior to that of many commercially available systems.