Gabriel Molina, Gonzalo Pereira, Humberto Farías, Marcelo Mendoza, Mauricio Araya, Mauricio Solar, Steffen Härtel, Víctor Castañeda, Camilo G Sotomayor
Medical imaging is essential nowadays throughout medical education, research, and care. Accordingly, international efforts have been made to set large-scale image repositories for these purposes. Yet, to date, browsing of large-scale medical image repositories has been troublesome, time-consuming, and generally limited by text search engines. A paradigm shift, by means of a query-by-example search engine, would alleviate these constraints and beneficially impact several practical demands throughout the medical field. The current project aims to address this gap in medical imaging consumption by developing a content-based image retrieval (CBIR) system, which combines two image processing architectures based on deep learning. Furthermore, a first-of-its-kind intelligent visual browser was designed that interactively displays a set of imaging examinations with similar visual content on a similarity map, making it possible to search for and efficiently navigate through a large-scale medical imaging repository, even if it has been set with incomplete and curated metadata. Users may, likewise, provide text keywords, in which case the system performs a content- and metadata-based search. The system was fashioned with an anonymizer service and designed to be fully interoperable according to international standards, to stimulate its integration within electronic healthcare systems and its adoption for medical education, research and care. Professionals of the healthcare sector, by means of a self-administered questionnaire, underscored that this CBIR system and intelligent interactive visual browser would be highly useful for these purposes. Further studies are warranted to complete a comprehensive assessment of the performance of the system through case description and protocolized evaluations by medical imaging specialists.