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With Nvidia Tesla graphics chips, doctors reduce time to diagnose breast cancer by 4 hours

With Nvidia Tesla graphics chips, doctors reduce time to diagnose breast cancer by 4 hours

Posting in Cancer

A medical device company is using Nvidia Tesla graphics chips to reduce the amount of time it takes to get breast imaging results into the hands of doctors by more than four hours.

If you think silicon graphics chips can only be used in computers, think again.

A Salt Lake City, Utah-based medical device company is using Nvidia Tesla graphics chips to reduce the amount of time it takes to get breast imaging results into the hands of doctors by more than four hours.

TechniScan's Warm Bath Ultrasound system uses the GPUs -- better known as the key ingredient that fuels hardcore computer gaming -- to crunch the algorithms needed to create three-dimensional images of a patient's breast.

The Nvidia chips have reduced the time to process data from 4.5 hours to just 20 minutes.

That means women can get the results of their imaging in a single hospital or clinic visit -- important not only for efficiency, but also for mental health, since patients don't have to go home and worry about a potential cancer diagnosis. (The vast majority -- 90 percent -- of suspicious spots are benign.)

Here's how it works: the scanner rotates all the way around a woman's breast, capturing a scan every rwo degrees. It then composites a three-dimensional image at 8 to 9 million voxels, the three-dimensional equivalent of a pixel.

The whole image takes more than 120 million Fast Fourier Transform calculations to build, Techniscan says.

Here's a look at the process:

Techniscan hopes that it can one day create a database of thousands of anonymous breast images and related data to provide researchers around the world the opportunity to study breast cancer.

That's not the only non-computing environment in which Nvidia Tesla GPUs are being used. In addition to medical imaging, they are also used for oil exploration and drug discovery.

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Andrew Nusca

Editor Emeritus

Andrew Nusca is editor of SmartPlanet and an associate editor for ZDNet. Previously, he worked at Money, Men's Vogue and Popular Mechanics magazines. He holds degrees from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and New York University. He is based in New York but resides in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure