The PICTURES programme, an MRC-funded collaboration between University of Dundee, University of Edinburgh, Abertay University, Public Health Scotland and industry partner Aidence, aims to increase the capabilities of Safe Havens to support emerging technologies and new data types such as images, MRIs, CTs, X-rays etc in health data research.

The PICTURES programme recently conducted a survey to find out what medical imaging tools are most used by researchers and why. Initially, the survey ran in the November 2020 issue of the SINAPSE newsletter, resulting in some great feedback from expert users, and a call to respond to a shorter, more targeted survey was e-mailed to SINAPSE members in January 2021. In total the survey received 43 responses from a good mix of researchers, clinicians, radiologists, and computer scientists with a range of experience levels (as shown in Figure 1).


Figure 1 – Survey results to the question: How long have you been using medical imaging tools?

In the survey, the PICTURES team provided a list of proposed medical imaging tools and asked respondents to what extent they would recommend each one. Figure 2 shows the top four results, where ImageJ was recommended ‘strongly’ by a high number of users, followed by 3D Slicer and ITK-SNAP. MicroDicom was ‘moderately’ recommended by an acceptable number of respondents. Among the similarly ranked tools MITK, Aliza, Mango and Weasis, Mango received a slightly higher recommendation by highly experienced users but MITK was better situated in general.

Figure 2 – Top 4 Survey results for the following question: To what extent would you recommend the tools on this list?

Based on survey results and other research activity, the six open-source medical imaging tools recommended to provide as standard in a Safe Haven environment are ImageJ, 3D Slicer, ITK-SNAP, MicroDicom, MITK and Mango. Thank you to those who responded to the survey and especially those who gave their time for follow-up interviews. Congratulations to Paola Galdi, winner of the Amazon voucher prize generously donated by SINAPSE.