BACKGROUND: OpenIGTLink is a new, open, simple and extensible network communication protocol for image-guided therapy (IGT). The protocol provides a standardized mechanism to connect hardware and software by the transfer of coordinate transforms, images, and status messages. MeVisLab is a framework for the development of image processing algorithms and visualization and interaction methods, with a focus on medical imaging.
METHODS: The paper describes the integration of the OpenIGTLink network protocol for IGT with the medical prototyping platform MeVisLab. The integration of OpenIGTLink into MeVisLab has been realized by developing a software module using the C++ programming language.
RESULTS: The integration was evaluated with tracker clients that are available online. Furthermore, the integration was used to connect MeVisLab to Slicer and a NDI tracking system over the network. The latency time during navigation with a real instrument was measured to show that the integration can be used clinically.
CONCLUSIONS: Researchers using MeVisLab can interface their software to hardware devices that already support the OpenIGTLink protocol, such as the NDI Aurora magnetic tracking system. In addition, the OpenIGTLink module can also be used to communicate directly with Slicer, a free, open source software package for visualization and image analysis.