NASA Technology Could Aid in Interpreting of Mammograms and Ultrasound

The new MED-SEG system, developed by Bartron Medical Imaging (New Haven, CT), relies on an innovative software program developed at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD to help doctors analyze mammograms, ultrasounds, digital X-rays, and other medical imaging tests. The FDA recently cleared the system to be used by trained professionals to process images. These images can be used in radiologists’ reports and communications, as well as other uses, but the processed images should not be used for primary image diagnosis.

altMED-SEG is a software device that receives medical images and data from various imaging sources, computed and direct radiographic devices, and secondary capture devices. Images and data can be stored, communicated, processed, and displayed within the system or across computer networks at distributed locations. The core of Bartron’s MED-SEG system is a computer algorithm — Hierarchical Segmentation Software (HSEG) — developed by Goddard Computer Engineer James C. Tilton, Ph.D.

The software algorithm is based on an approach called image segmentation, which organizes and groups an image’s pixels together at different levels of detail. The approach not only finds region objects, but also groups spatially separated region objects together into region classes. Since the algorithm was developed, scientists have used it to analyze Earth-imaging data, using it to improve the accuracy of snow and ice maps produced from the data.

Bartron’s exclusive license of NASA’s HSEG technologies in the medical imaging field allows the company to contribute to the work of doctors who analyze images obtained from computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, radio frequency, and other imaging sources.

With the MED-SEG system, medical centers will be able to send images via a secure Internet connection to a Bartron data center for processing by the company's imaging application. The data are then sent back to the medical center for use by medical personnel during diagnosis. Bartron has installed the system at the University of Connecticut Health Center, with the possibility of installing evaluation systems at three additional facilities.

Through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), Tilton also worked with the company to develop, test, and document a new, three-dimensional version of HSEG, which the company plans to incorporate into the next version of the MED-SEG product.

For more information, visit www.nasa.gov/topics/nasalife/features/medical-imagery.html.

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