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Dr. Osman Ratib had a problem. As a radiologist, he dealt with mountains of digital images which needed to be tracked, stored, and shared on a regular basis – but he didn’t have a good way to easily transport everything he needed.

The computer systems at the University of California at Los Angeles Medical Center where he works as the vice chairman of information systems were good, but they weren’t always close by. He needed a small, portable device that came with big storage capabilities in order to get his patients’ images from one place to the next.

Enter the Apple iPod.

Ratib and his programming partner Dr. Antoine Rosset set about developing a software application that uses the iPod and other off-the-shelf Macintosh equipment to manipulate, manage, and move medical imaging data between departments and workstations.

“With the size of the files and sometimes thousands of [medical] images, we had problems fitting that onto a CD, or even into a computer,” says Ratib.

While the iPod is most commonly associated with digital music, Ratib saw the cigarette pack-sized device as the perfect vehicle for transferring medical images: they are small, handy, and come with 40-gigabytes or more

Having the iPod as their portable component was key as Ratib and Rossett set about creating a customized software solution that would enable radiologists to easily and less expensively carry their data.

That solution: OsiriX.

The software is an open source application that runs Mac OS X, version 10.3 or higher, but its real power comes from in the functionality it opens up on hardware. It automatically recognizes and lists the medical images stored on the iPod. Now, iin much the same manner that people scroll through a playlist, radiologists can scroll through a list of patients or view their records through iPod’s iPhoto application. 

Those images can then be uploaded back to a Mac using a FireWire connection. After that, doctors can view images from a variety angles.

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