Dynamic real-time 4D cardiac MDCT image display using GPU-accelerated volume rendering

Qi Zhang, Roy Eagleson, Terry M. Peters
Imaging Research Laboratories, Robarts Research Institute, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, N6A 5K8, Canada
Computerized Medical Imaging and Graphics, Vol. 33, No. 6. (September 2009), pp. 461-476


   title={Dynamic real-time 4 D cardiac MDCT image display using GPU-accelerated volume rendering},

   author={Zhang, Q. and Eagleson, R. and Peters, T.M.},

   journal={Computerized Medical Imaging and Graphics},






   publisher={Elsevier Science Ltd, Oxford Fulfillment Centre, P. O. Box 800, Kidlington, Oxford, OX 5 1 DX, UK,}


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Intraoperative cardiac monitoring, accurate preoperative diagnosis, and surgical planning are important components of minimally-invasive cardiac therapy. Retrospective, electrocardiographically (ECG) gated, multidetector computed tomographical (MDCT), four-dimensional (3D + time), real-time, cardiac image visualization is an important tool for the surgeon in such procedure, particularly if the dynamic volumetric image can be registered to, and fused with the actual patient anatomy. The addition of stereoscopic imaging provides a more intuitive environment by adding binocular vision and depth cues to structures within the beating heart. In this paper, we describe the design and implementation of a comprehensive stereoscopic 4D cardiac image visualization and manipulation platform, based on the opacity density radiation model, which exploits the power of modern graphics processing units (GPUs) in the rendering pipeline. In addition, we present a new algorithm to synchronize the phases of the dynamic heart to clinical ECG signals, and to calculate and compensate for latencies in the visualization pipeline. A dynamic multiresolution display is implemented to enable the interactive selection and emphasis of volume of interest (VOI) within the entire contextual cardiac volume and to enhance performance, and a novel color and opacity adjustment algorithm is designed to increase the uniformity of the rendered multiresolution image of heart. Our system provides a visualization environment superior to noninteractive software-based implementations, but with a rendering speed that is comparable to traditional, but inferior quality, volume rendering approaches based on texture mapping. This retrospective ECG-gated dynamic cardiac display system can provide real-time feedback regarding the suspected pathology, function, and structural defects, as well as anatomical information such as chamber volume and morphology.
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