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10 March 2006 Visualizing the beating heart: interactive direct volume rendering of high-resolution CT time series using standard PC hardware
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Modern multi-slice CT (MSCT) scanners allow acquisitions of 3D data sets covering the complete heart at different phases of the cardiac cycle. This enables the physician to non-invasively study the dynamic behavior of the heart, such as wall motion artifacts. To this end an interactive 4D visualization of the heart in motion is desirable. However, the application of well-known volume rendering algorithms enforces considerable sacrifices in terms of image quality to ensure interactive frame rates, even when accelerated by standard graphics processors (GPUs). Thereby, the performance of pure CPU implementations of direct volume rendering algorithms is limited even for moderate volume sizes by both the number of required computations and the available memory bandwidth. Despite of offering higher computational performance and more memory bandwidth GPU accelerated implementations cannot provide interactive visualizations of large 4D data sets since data sets that do not fit into the onboard graphics memory are often not handled efficiently. In this paper we present a software architecture for GPU-based direct volume rendering algorithms that allows the interactive high-quality visualization of large medical time series data sets. In contrast to other work, our architecture exploits the complete memory hierarchy for high cache and bandwidth efficiency. Additionally, several data-dependent techniques are incorporated to reduce the amount of volume data to be transferred and rendered. None of these techniques sacrifices image quality in order to improve speed. By applying the method to several multi phase MSCT cardiac data sets we show that we can achieve interactive frame rates on currently available standard PC hardware.
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Helko Lehmann, Olivier Ecabert, Dieter Geller, Gundolf Kiefer, and Jürgen Weese "Visualizing the beating heart: interactive direct volume rendering of high-resolution CT time series using standard PC hardware", Proc. SPIE 6141, Medical Imaging 2006: Visualization, Image-Guided Procedures, and Display, 614109 (10 March 2006);

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