Digital archiving and efficient retrieval of radiological scans have become critical steps in contemporary medical diagnostics. Since more and more images and image sequences (single scans or video) from various modalities (CT/MRI/PET/digital X-ray) are now available in digital formats (e.g., DICOM-3), hospitals and radiology clinics need
to implement efficient protocols capable of managing the enormous amounts of data generated daily in a typical clinical routine. We present a method that appears to be a viable way to eliminate the tedious step of manually annotating image and video material for database indexing. MPEG-7 is a new framework that standardizes the way images are characterized in terms of color, shape, and other abstract, content-related criteria. A set of standardized descriptors that are automatically generated from an image is used to compare an image to other images in a database, and to compute the distance between two images for a given application domain. Text-based database queries can be replaced with image-based queries using MPEG-7. Consequently, image queries can be conducted without any prior knowledge of the keys that were used as indices in the database. Since the decoding and matching steps are not part of the MPEG-7 standard, this method also enables searches that were not planned by the time the keys were generated.