Computational Diagnostics - Monitoring System for Brain Operations
Neurosurgery, more than most areas of medicine, requires an advanced level of skill and information. Instant feedback on the state of the patient is essential throughout brain operations in order to protect the patient's nervous system, particularly the tissues near the area being operated on, and to minimize recovery time.
One of the technologies for providing sophisticated data on the patient's nervous system during surgery is provided by Computational Diagnostics, Inc. (Pittsburgh, PA). CDI's NeuroNet© provides real-time acquisition, analysis and distributed display of neurophysiology data on a Hewlett-Packard PA/RISC workstation before, during and after operative procedures. Using the real-time data, surgeons can modify treatment to prevent irreversible neurologic damage.
The system is networked, thereby permitting remote monitoring, so that, for example, one neurophysiologist and two technicians can monitor three procedures in three different locations simultaneously. The patients benefit from the expertise of a professional neurophysiologist without the need for the specialist to be inside each operating room. Furthermore, by transmitting the information from the HP workstation to remote personal computers via modem, non-local medical expertise can be brought to bear on problematic cases. All this sharing of valuable resources is accomplished while minimizing the cost to both patient and hospital.
In the competitive medical equipment market, NeuroNet has an outstanding reputation, in part because it develops the software and screen displays to accommodate the wide range of needs of the sophisticated user, while minimizing the level of knowledge needed by the technician. CDI uses X-Designer for rapid development of the NeuroNet screen displays.
"These interfaces communicate complicated information that the physician must evaluate and act on quickly. We are continually working with neurophysiologists to make sure the interface meets their needs as effectively as possible," says Sharon Enos, president of CDI. Because X-Designer allows rapid prototyping, CDI can work directly with the medical specialists in real-time, presenting the display, obtaining their feedback, and then hitting a button to produce the computer code in C or C++.
According to William E. Madden, a CDI systems/software engineer, the company was able to reduce six months of interface generation to only 3-4 weeks using X-Designer. This was crucial in gaining a competitive edge through shortened time-to-market. At the same time, it was essential that the information be very clean and easy to use.
"We've got six different processes, each with its own interface. I'd guess that the code to generate and set resources on the widgets alone is in the neighborhood of 40,000+ lines," Madden explains. "One of the most powerful features is the layout editor. We can move elements of the display around and X-Designer will generate code to make sure everything is sized consistently. Also, X-Designer is very easy to use. We generated our first interface prototype within two days."
NeuroNet is the first stage in CDI's Multimedia MedNet©, which was also developed with the use of X-Designer. Multimedia MedNet incorporates various forms of clinical information, in addition to electrophysiological data. These include anesthesiological data and realtime video and audio.
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