Radiological imaging is fundamental within the healthcare industry and has become routinely adopted for diagnosis, disease monitoring and treatment planning. With the advent of digital imaging modalities and the rapid growth in both diagnostic and therapeutic imaging, the ability to able to harness this large influx of data is of paramount. Traditionally, the systematic collection of medical images for research from heterogeneous sites has not been commonplace within the NHS and is fraught with challenges including; data acquisition, storage, secure transfer and correct anonymisation. Here we describe the development and implementation of a national centralised oncology image database and discuss the central issues associated with large-scale image acquisition from heterogeneous sites.
The ability to collect fully annotated sets of images for research opens to door to a multitude of potential research opportunities that utilise the legacy images, such as quantitative image informatics. Medical imaging provides the ability to detect and localise many changes that are important to determine whether a disease is present or a therapy is effective by depicting alterations in the anatomic, physiologic, biochemical or molecular process. Calculating quantitative imaging features from acquired images and using these to build computational models to investigate detection, prognosis, and classification.