This article describes how the Craniofacial Imaging Laboratory at the Cleft Palate and Craniofacial Deformities Institute, St. Louis Children's Hospital, Washington University Medical Center, has developed an electronic archive for the storage of computed tomography image digital data that is independent of scanner hardware and independent of units of storage media (i.e., floppy disks and optical disks). The archive represents one of the largest repositories of high-quality computed tomography data of children with craniofacial deformities in the world. Archiving reconstructed image data is essential for comparative imaging, surgical simulation, quantitative analysis, and use with solid model fabrication (e.g., stereolithography). One tertiary craniofacial center's experience in the establishment and maintenance of such an archive through three generations of storage technology is reported. The current archive is housed on an external 35-GB hard drive attached to a Windows-based desktop server. Data in the archive were categorized by specific demographics into groups of patients, number of scans, and diagnoses. The Craniofacial Imaging Laboratory archive currently contains computed tomography image digital data for 1827 individual scans. The earliest scan was done in 1980; the most recently stored scan for the purposes of this report occurred in May of 2000. The average number of scans archived per complete year was 94, with a range of 59 to 138. Of the 1827 total scans, 74 percent could be classified into specific diagnostic categories. The majority of the archive (55 percent) is composed of the following five diagnoses: sagittal synostosis (17 percent), unilateral coronal synostosis (11 percent), hemifacial microsomia (10 percent), plagiocephaly without synostosis (10 percent), and metopic synostosis (7 percent). Storage of computed tomography image data in a digital archive currently allows for continuous upgrading of image display and analysis and facilitates longitudinal and cross-sectional studies, both intramural and extramural. Internet access for clinical and research purposes is feasible, but contingent on protection of patient confidentiality. The future of digital imaging regarding craniofacial computed tomography scan storage and processing is also discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas