How one institution is using PACS-based movies, GIFs to advance radiology education

Generating short videos and GIF animations from images embedded in picture archiving and communication systems is changing the way one institution thinks about radiology.

That’s the overarching message from a team of researchers who described their dynamic image-generating software program Feb. 5 in the Journal of Digital Imaging. The custom platform only requires one click to convert series or multi-frame images into easily sharable video resources.

Cinebot, as it’s known, has room for improvement, but has been popular with imaging experts, said Ish A. Talati, with Georgetown University’s School of Medicine, and colleagues.

“This tool has been enthusiastically received at our institution where it has facilitated improved presentation, teaching, case review, and sharing of interesting findings both internally and externally,” Talati and colleagues wrote.

Picture archiving and communication systems have undoubtedly improved imaging, but dynamic images can take the specialty to new heights, the authors wrote. And a recent study revealed that using CT- and MRI-based movies in the anatomy class improved students' performance on exams and left them more prepared for clerkships.

Talati and colleagues created Cinebot as an add-on to a PACS, and can produce high quality files—such as MPEG4 video—to be shared through email, mobile messaging or presentation software. It also automatically removes patient-identifying information to fulfill privacy and regulatory guidelines.

The team implemented the software at their local institution, tracking usage data over a two-year period ending in July 2019. Over that time, 59 Cinebot users generated 2,758 dynamic images taken from more than 1,200 radiology exams.

Users drew primarily from exams including angiography (770). But, cross-sectional imaging modalities (MR/CT) proved to produce the greatest number of dynamic images, with CT accounting for 712 movies and MR another 571.

The dynamic images have been used to teach residents, during case conferences, and through an internal Wiki-based “collaborative authoring and learning environment” that allows users to post a series of educational videos. Additionally, the authors noted, it may save radiologists' time. 

“…Since it takes a matter of seconds to click a single button to initiate the movie creation process, it is probably reasonable to state that user time and steps have decreased,” Talati and colleagues wrote.

It’s difficult to guarantee the videos and GIFs are completely anonymized, but the researchers require an internal manual screening step just in case. This, along with other measures, would likely improve their software going forward.