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  • Informatics
  • MIRC CTP Moves Files with the Most Powerful Anonymizer in the Industry

  • RSNA News continues its series of profiles on real-world Medical Imaging Resource Center (MIRC®) users with Daniel Rubin, M.D., M.S., a clinical assistant professor of radiology at Stanford University Medical Center, research scientist at Stanford Informatics and director of scientific development at the National Center for Biomedical Ontology. Dr. Rubin and his colleagues have been using the clinical trials processor (CTP) tool, based on MIRC technology, for about seven months in a study characterizing liver lesions.

    RSNA News, October 2008 

    "We needed to customize the system to anonymize particular fields and name the cases in a particular way according to the requirements of the research study," said Dr. Rubin. "CTP is open-source and scalable and offered the flexibility and features we need."

    The researchers have set up and successfully tested CTP's image sharing capabilities as they plan for a joint project to share images with other institutions, said Dr. Rubin. "When other institutions are involved, the de-identification is absolutely critical," he said. "There are multiple steps in the pipeline—you need the DICOM receiver, you need the image anonymizer and then you need a DICOM sender. CTP lets institution A configure it to receive an image from the PACS, then anonymize it and ship it off to institution B. At institution B, CTP receives images and then stores them in a local image archive."

    Especially useful is CTP's ability to customize anonymization based on any field within the DICOM image, as well as its ability to filter DICOM images using a flexible scripting language, Dr. Rubin said. "Some files that are secondary captures might have personal health information (PHI) burned into the image," he said. "With CTP, you can avoid the potential glitch of most anonymizers, which take a secondary capture image and anonymize the DICOM headers but haven't anonymized PHI contained within the image itself. We can enter some rules to recognize secondary capture images and not send them at all. In that regard, CTP has proven very powerful and flexible for image transmission."

    CTP also gives the researchers options for manipulating images, said Dr. Rubin. "They're not locked in to a single pre-specified workflow that any particular vendor provides," he said. "In addition, CTP provides a Web-based way of browsing the images you receive, like a mini-PACS, and you can download them using a Web browser and then delete the images off the server when you're done with them."

    For details about CTP installation and different customization options, Dr. Rubin urges potential users to consult the CTP wiki at MIRCwiki.RSNA.org. "It's very straightforward for anyone who has any kind of technical background," he said. "You're going to need to work with someone who knows to install the application on a server, but it's no more difficult to set up and install than MIRC."

    Daniel Rubin, M.D., M.S.