The MIRC project was initiated by the RSNA Radiology Informatics Committee to construct a library of medical information, globally accessible to the imaging community through the Internet. The project has evolved to support communities of cooperating libraries, individually managed by healthcare and educational institutions, whose content can be accessed by a user as if it were a single library. The libraries can provide all kinds of digital information, including teaching files, clinical and technical documents, electronic presentations, and imaging datasets for research and clinical trials.
The RSNA manages an open-source project that has produced software making it easy to install a system for teaching files and clinical trials at no cost. Numerous other developers have produced complete or partial MIRC implementations.
1 The MIRC Community
Many MIRC communities have arisen - some within institutions and some shared globally. The RSNA maintains a MIRC site that provides access to libraries around the world.
Any MIRC site can function as an access point for users, called a query service, or an indexed information library, called a storage service, or both. A query service provides a point of access to a MIRC community. It provides a query form to the user, distributes the search criteria to all selected storage services, collates the responses, and presents them to the user. A storage service responds to the query received from the query service, searches its index for documents meeting the search criteria, and returns abstracts and locations of the matching documents to the query service.
Authors on a storage service can use a MIRC-defined format to construct teaching files and other documents in a common structure that allows libraries to index the documents in medically meaningful ways. The indexing mechanism provides users great flexibility in searching the MIRC community. Users can perform free-text searches on the contents of documents as well as structured searches on patient criteria (e.g., sex, age), image criteria (e.g., modality, anatomical region, storage format, compression), diagnosis and other codes, through a standard web browser.
There are several ways for an individual or an institution to establish a system that can participate in a MIRC community:
- The RSNA MIRC software provides both a query service and a storage service as well as support for the MIRC-defined authoring format.
- An existing teaching file system can be modified to use its internal database to provide an index of its documents, requiring only the construction of the software layer necessary to respond to a MIRC query.
- Some commercial teaching file systems also support the MIRC query mechanism, allowing them to participate in a MIRC community.
2 MIRC Hardware Considerations
For guidance on choosing hardware for a MIRC site running the RSNA MIRC implementation, see MIRC Hardware Considerations.
3 MIRC Teaching File System
For instructions on obtaining and installing a new teaching file system using the RSNA MIRC implementation, see MIRC Articles. The top-level article, MIRC, provides all the information necessary to get a site up and running.
4 Clinical Trials Software
The RSNA MIRC project has developed a suite of tools to support both single-site and multi-site clinical trials. The primary tool is CTP. See CTP Articles for a list of articles on CTP and its use in clinical trials and other applications. The top-level article, CTP-The RSNA Clinical Trial Processor, provides full configuration information for the program.
5 Getting Help
The Downloads article lists several useful tools.