Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fine arteries and damage from hypertension

Centerlines of arteries from 7T time of flight MRI image of a hypertensive patient

The 7T MRI let us see arteries that normally don't appear in MRI I had to learn new artery names this is the associated paper: I was limited to what images I could put in the paper.
Centerlines of arteries from a 7T time of flight MRI image of a normal blood pressure patient
You can see that the lower second healthy patient has more visible small lenticulostriate (LCA) arteries and they are straighter than the upper high blood pressure patient. So we are actually seeing and able to measure damage from hypertension. The centerlines are there to give us something e could measure.

Cancer tumors may starve

I am amazed how large cancer tumors can get and the patient still lives. A tumor is a lump but if it is not next to some vital structure it's actually just a large mass and we can live with even huge tumors. Fast growing tumors are growing uncontrolled and very metabolically active so they are sucking up energy or blood sugar from the body. Also we treat cancer with chemotherapy which makes the patient sick and causes the patient to lose their appetite while they are dealing with this growth that is sucking up the patient's energy possibly driving the patient to starvation. This makes it so important for cancer patients to eat well during treatment. This may also explain why sudden weightloss is a sign of cancer and also why cancer patients' immune system are reduced, the tumor is sucking up the energy that would make gone to the immune  system.

Friday, June 21, 2013

MRI gradients

I have a large pool of research images I generated and I think they're really interesting so I will start posting them.
This image shows segmentation of arteries from a Time of Flight-MRI. The arteries are about the brightest thing in the image and we used that to segment them. But the magnetic field of the MRI is not consistent so the other tissue in the back of the brain came out bright.
Arterial segmentation from Time of Flight MRI
To remove this we ran a median filter over the image and created a blurred image.
Median filtered image
We subtracted the blurry median filtered image from the original image which got rid of the intensity gradient. Then reran the segmentation and isolated the arteries without the background.
Segmented arteries after subtracting median filter blurred image
Then we could make quantitative measurements on the isolated arteries. I used this technique to extract the small arteries from a 7T time-of-flight MRI image of hypertensive subject in this paper

Computer everywhere but on the way out of the way

Computers spreading everywhere and they next step is for them to get out of the way. Physicians are spending more time with electronic medical records (EMR) and less time with patients but the real value will be when the physicians can spend more time with patients because they spend less time digging around trying to find things in the medical records.

We are getting the computing power now we need to focus of developing the intelligent software that predicts and provides what is needed. Even if it's right only part of time it can speed things up. First the desktop computer will disappear, then the laptop, and then even handheld computers will disappear because the computer brains will either be embedded in the the device and the device will be connected to hidden computer servers if it needs more power or more importantly integration with data. We will start to see thermometers, stethoscopes, pressure gauges, microscopes, X-rays, CTs, MRIs all hooked up to the networks of information that can tell when a medical measurement is out of the ordinary and what that may signify, but we won't even see the computers anymore.

The cost of walking and riding

We make walking, riding public transit, and bicycling expensive and driving cheap. Walkable, bicycle friendly, transit oriented neighborhood have been restricted there aren't enough to meet demand driving the price up. Walkable neighborhoods tend to be more expensive than car dependent neighborhoods this should encourage builders to want to build in this kind of place because they would actually get better prices for their buildings. We don't have more because we actually restrict this kind of denser neighborhood with parking minimums, height restrictions and it does take quite a bit of planning to build a bike route. In places where there are bike routes they do get used extensively.

The reason this concerns me is that we make it so hard, dangerous, and expensive to get any exercise which will of course lead to more diseases. We are not doing the simple things on the level of society to be healthy and then trying to rely on high tech medical research which I work on. The high tech medicine should be the last resort when things go wrong and things will go wrong often enough that we don't need to add to health problems intentionally and I think we are by subsidizing driving cars so much and making it hard and even dangerous to walk, bike, or go outside without a car around us.  

Don't be bad faster

Clinical biocomputing tends to reuse well tested algorithms and procedures over and over again as opposed to research biocomputing which is always trying something new. In clinical biocomputing we have the opportunity to guess what the user is trying because clinical medicine tends to repeat the same fewer techniques over and over again. If we can guess what the user will do we can precalculate the solution. This will allow us to use more accurate even if slower algorithms because we can calculate it ahead of time.

In computing we are obsessed with speed, faster is better, but we actually have to do something accurate enough to be useful or we are just bad faster.