HIERARCHAL CODING STRATEGY FOR EFFICIENT COMPRESSION FOR MEDICAL IMAGES: INTRODUCTION (1)

Along with the advances in computers, communications and imaging technologies, there has been an increase in the use and applications of telemedicine: the exchange of medical information (data, voice, and still or video images) using telecommunication equipment. Telemedicine has already been used successfully in a number of areas of medicine.

One of telemedicine’s main attractions lies in the ability to provide specialist medical care to the areas that are underserved, particularly those located remotely from major population centers. Tele-ophthalmology has the potential to improve the accessibility of people in remote areas to specialist ophthalmic care, and in turn to help fight preventable blindness. It can also have a large impact on the costs and necessity of transporting patients to regional centers. As a primary screening tool, tele-ophthalmology also has a role in identifying patients who does not need non urgent treatment. In this way, the expense of sending ophthalmic teams to remote, isolated, and sparsely populated areas can be reduced.

 

Fig1Hierarchal Coding Strategy
Figure 1 : Telemedicine Communication System

The essential parts of a store-and-forward telemedicine system include good quality data recording equipment and effective communications systems operated by trained health personnel and a data archiving and viewing system accessible by specialist medical personnel. In the case of ophthalmology where ocular imaging plays a significant role in clinical diagnosis, good quality digital images of the retina and external eye form the key part of the system.

Although the technical issues of image capture, digitizing, and transmission can easily be addressed. Two factors can make the whole tele-ophthalmology system ineffective. Communication systems in remote areas are often of low quality and in some cases nonexistent. Satellite telephones can be used but affordable systems suffer from low data transfer rates and are expensive to operate. Furthermore, digitized ocular images require substantial storage space and take a long time to transmit. A high-quality digital image can reach a size of 1.5 MB or greater. Over a 9600 bauds/sec modem line, this image can take at least 25 minutes to be transmitted which becomes important when a large number of images are to be transmitted. In stated of sending original large image data, there is an need of image compression to send the data at faster rate.

Representative APR 391%

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