3D Medical Imaging and the Web – the future is now!

The dream of a zero footprint DICOM viewer with desktop application features is quickly becoming a reality.

I’ve recently had the opportunity to assist Radical Imaging, LLC and the Open Health Imaging Foundation add initial support for 3D volume rendering and multi-planar slicing to their already very powerful web-based DICOM viewer. Using vtk.js, the new JS library for 3D rendering from Kitware, we were able to get an initial version of the typical 4-up view – 3 planar views and one 3D volume view – working within a web browser with relative ease.

Since I have worked with Kitware’s VTK and ITK C++ libraries on a number of commercial applications, I was happy to see that the vtk.js library is built around the same concepts. Developers coming from the C++ libraries will see the familiar Actor, Mapper, and Renderer classes, as well as some new functionality that was previously only available within Kitware’s Paraview application.

Vtk.js is not yet as feature complete as the C++ libraries, but development is proceeding at a rapid pace and it will be only a short time before the two libraries offer substantially equivalent functionality.

With the support of a longtime open source vendor like Kitware, and the Open Health Imaging Foundation’s existing web based platforms, I believe we will finally achieve a robust – and just as important, long-lived – web solution that can provide true desktop application functionality that just a dream until now.

Rick Frank