Purpose Open source software (oss) development for medical imaging enables collaboration of individuals and groups to produce high-quality tools that meet user needs. This process is reviewed and illustrated with OsiriX, a fast DICOM viewer program for the Apple Macintosh.
Materials and methods OsiriX is an oss for the Apple Macintosh under Mac OS X v10.4 or higher specifically designed for navigation and visualization of multimodality and multidimensional images: 2D Viewer, 3D Viewer, 4D Viewer (3D series with temporal dimension, for example: Cardiac-CT) and 5D Viewer (3D series with temporal and functional dimensions, for example: Cardiac-PET-CT). The 3D Viewer offers all modern rendering modes: multiplanar reconstruction, surface rendering, volume rendering and maximum Intensity projection. All these modes support 4D data and are able to produce image fusion between two different series (for example: PET-CT). OsiriX was developed using the Apple Xcode development environment and Cocoa framework as both a DICOM PACS workstation for medical imaging and an image processing software package for medical research (radiology and nuclear imaging), functional imaging, 3D imaging, confocal microscopy and molecular imaging.
Results OsiriX is an open source program by Antoine Rosset, a radiologist and software developer, was designed specifically for the needs of advanced imaging modalities. The software program turns an Apple Macintosh into a DICOM PACS workstation for medical imaging and image processing. OsiriX is distributed free of charge under the GNU General Public License and its source code is available to anyone. This system illustrates how open software development for medical imaging tools can be successfully designed, implemented and disseminated.
Conclusion oss development can provide useful cost effective tools tailored to specific needs and clinical tasks. The integrity and quality assurance of open software developed by a community of users does not follow the traditional conformance and certification required for commercial medical software programs. However, open software can lead to innovative solutions designed by users better suited for specific tasks.