A search engine for the human body

March 14, 2011 | Source: Technology Review
Body Scan

Hyperlinked CT scan (Photo: Microsoft Research)

A new search tool developed by researchers at Microsoft indexes medical images of the human body, automatically finding organs and other structures, using 3D medical imagery.

CT scans use X-rays to capture many slices through the body that can be combined to create a 3D representation. This is a powerful tool for diagnosis, but it’s difficult to navigate.

The new search tool indexes scanned data and lists the organs it finds at the side of the screen, creating a table of hyperlinks for the body. A user can click on the word “heart” and be presented with a clear view of the organ.

The software uses the pattern of light and dark in the scan to identify particular structures. It was developed by training machine-learning algorithms to recognize features in hundreds of scans in which experts had marked the major organs.