March 1, 2004
The goal of this project is to develop an effective visualization for displaying and interacting with medical laboratory results.
Current methods of reporting and interacting with medical laboratory results consist of text and numbers, which can be printed out or displayed monochromatically. While such a technique is sufficient, it does not take advantage of advances in both computer and visualization technology, which could lead to increases in efficiency, and help in the process of teaching medical interns the process of diagnosis .
This project lies in the domain of laboratory medicine, the medical specialty that deals with all aspects of performing and interpreting laboratory tests. Current techniques for displaying and interpreting laboratory results are sufficient for senior clinicians who practice in a variety of specialties, but for medical students and interns, the challenge of interpreting appropriate laboratory tests can be enormous .
The task is to display a series of interactive, effective visualizations that illustrate the results of laboratory tests. For the purposes of this project, the visualization will involve the results of a thyroid function test, which is commonly used to diagnose disorders of the thyroid gland and also to monitor the effects of treatment of known thyroid disease . The common analytes measured by a thyroid function test are free thyroxine (FT4) and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH). In addition, optional supplementary analytes that may also be measured when FT4 and TSH levels are outside the normal bounds include thyroxine (T4), free triiodothyronine (FT3), and anti-thyroid peroxidase antibodies (anti-TPO) .
The target data set is a time-series of approximately 1500 thyroid function tests, all of which include FT4 and TSH results. Some of the tests also contain measurements of T4, FT3, and anti-TPO. Most patients whose tests are included in the dataset have been tested multiple (up to 15) times.
Aside from watching multiple episodes of NBC's hit medical drama E. R., we are not familiar with the area at all, but feel that this will be an interesting and practical problem to solve using visualization techniques.
We propose LabVis, an interactive system for displaying medical laboratory results. The LabVis system is made up of three different, but linked, visualizations aimed at providing the user with both an overview of patient test results through time and specific information for one or more tests. These are illustrated in the diagram below. The first visualization offers a time-series based overview of FT4 and TSH laboratory test results for a specific patient. The normal ranges of each analyte will be highlighted. A secondary visualization displays a scatterplot of FT4 vs. TSH, and is used to interpret selected test results chosen by the user based on the primary time-series overview. Again, highlighting is used to indicate those areas which lie outside the normal range. A third visualization displays the numerical test results, as well as supplementary laboratory test data. As with the primary time-series visualization, highlighting is used ito indicate those areas which are abnormal and require immediate attention. A different type of highlighting is used to link the visualizations by denoting the test results currently selected by the user. Together, these linked visualizations provide decision support for the physician by displaying an overview of patient laboratory results, along with supporting details-on-demand interaction to aid the physician in making a diagnosis and monitoring patients for possible abnormal medical conditions.
Scenario of Use
LabVis will be implemented using Java. The InfoVis Toolkit will be used to provide time series and scatterplot drawing functionality required for the appropriate visualizations.