Dynamic brain atlas may help diagnose patients using advanced brain scans

Scientists have today unveiled new technology that may one day help doctors identify subtle brain abnormalities that underly major diseases including many psychiatric disorders and dementia.

In many cases it is difficult to precisely identify the nature of brain abnormalities from brain scans. However, armed with a notebook computer, this system will allow radiologists to compare a patients scan with a brain atlas customised to that patient, which has been dynamically generated from hundreds of images stored around the world.

The Dynamic Brain Atlas project was created by scientists at Kings College London, Imperial College London and Oxford University with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Department of Trade & Industry (DTI). The project is one of several demonstrations that show the potential of e-Science and new Grid technology, selected for the official opening of the National e-Science Centre in Edinburgh by Gordon Brown today.

Dr Derek Hill, Senior Lecturer in Radiological Sciences at Kings College London, said: The Dynamic Brain Atlas could help radiologists identify subtle brain abnormalities that may not be clear from a brain scan. This is very important in the diagnosis of psychiatric conditions and dementias.

Using this technology a doctor could use a networked portable computer to compare a patients brain scan from the hospital computer system with a dynamically generated brain atlas customised to that patient. This brain atlas will show the normal range of size and shape of brain structures for a person of the same age, gender, and past medical history as the current patient.

Much like an Internet search, a doctor would enter in the desired properties of the customized atlas and click go. Using Grid technology the patient image is securely uploaded to ensure patient confidentiality, and simultaneously, images of many reference subjects that have the appropriate prop

Contact: Tony Stephenson
Imperial College London

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