MIRC Overview - CTP and TFS
RSNA launched the MIRC project in 2000, under the direction of the Radiology Informatics Committee, in order to provide an Internet-based source of medical imaging tools to the radiology community. MIRC has evolved as an open source project that relies on contributions from both users and developers. MIRC software tools are provided free of charge for use by the radiology community.
The early releases of MIRC software let radiology sites create and manage libraries of teaching files and share them with other sites, so that a user could access cases from sites around the Internet as if they were contained in a single library. MIRC sites can store and serve all kinds of digital information: teaching files, clinical and technical documents, electronic presentations, and imaging datasets for research and clinical trials.
Over time, as the use of MIRC for exchange of images for clinical trials became more prevalent, it became increasingly clear that the needs of clinical trials users required a different set of features from those of teaching file users. Thus, MIRC came to offer two distinct, but related software products: the MIRC Teaching File System (TFS) and the MIRC Clinical Trials Processor (CTP). This Wiki provides information on both of these software tools, and a few other related tools, including instructions on their installation and use.
1 MIRC CTP
Radiology sites participating in multisite clinical trials use CTP to manage, process and transmit medical images and associated information. CTP is a highly configurable and extensible application. It features processing pipelines that imaging datasets can be passed through to prepare them for use in research. Notably it offers very powerful pipeline stages for anonymization of DICOM data. CTP is used to connect field centers with principal investigator sites to facilitate the aggregation of research data.
This Wiki offers numerous articles for developers and users on various aspects of CTP, which are gathered in the index of MIRC CTP Articles. The top-level article, MIRC CTP, provides complete instructions on installing and configuring the program.
2 MIRC TFS
Many radiology sites around the world have established MIRC TFS sites. Some share their content via the Internet, while others provide access only to local users. RSNA itself maintains a TFS site that provides access to several different TFS libraries.
Any TFS 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 set of TFS libraries. 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 defined format to construct teaching files and other documents in a common structure that allows libraries to index the documents using medically significant terminology.The indexing mechanism provides users great flexibility in searching TFS libraries. 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 to set up a teaching file site with TFS:
- Use the TFS software as a query service, a storage service, and authoring tool to create teaching files in the MIRC-defined authoring format
- Modify an existing teaching file system to use its internal database to provide an index of its documents and add a layer of software to enable it to respond to a MIRC query
- Install one of the commercial teaching file systems that support the MIRC query mechanism, allowing them to share information with other MIRC sites.
This Wiki offers an abundance of information on installing and using TFS, listed in the index of MIRC TFS Articles. The top-level article, MIRC TFS, provides all the information necessary to get a site up and running. In addition, there is a series of how-to articles, including instructional videos, available on the RSNA Website's MIRC page.
3 Other MIRC Tools
The Downloads page provides links to articles on several other MIRC-related tools.
4 Hardware Considerations
MIRC tools are designed to run on standard, inexpensive current generation hardware. For guidance on choosing hardware for a MIRC site running TFS or CTP, see MIRC Hardware Considerations.
5 Getting Help
Ask questions and post feedback by joining the RSNA CTP/MIRC User Group.