Information visualization and
its application to medicine
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Udine,
via delle Scienze 206, 33100 Udine, Italy
Received 26 February 2000; received in revised form 24 August 2000; accepted 13 November 2000
This paper provides an introduction to the ®eld of information visualization (IV) and a discussion of
its application to medical systems. More speci®cally, it aims at: (i) de®ning what IV is and what are its
goals (ii) highlighting the similarities and differences between IVand traditional medical imaging (iii)
illustrating the potential of IV for medical applications by examining several examples of implemented
systems and (iv) giving some general indications about the purposes and the effective exploitation of an
IV component into a medical system. # 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Information visualization; Medical visualization; Human±computer interaction
The amount and the complexity of data available at clinicians' ®ngertips are constantly
increasing as a result of technology advancements in computer performance and storage
capacity. Unfortunately, due to well-known cognitive and perceptual limitations, the
quantity of information a user can examine and handle at a given instant is very limited.
Therefore, the various members of the clinical staff (physicians, technicians, nurses,
students, managers) will not be able to take advantage of these increasingly large amounts
of data and will also incur the risk of being overwhelmed by them, if computer applications
do not take adequately into account effective presentation and interaction with data.
Answers to these problems are a central theme of study and development in the rapidly
growing area of information visualization (IV).
IV can thus play an important role in the development of most kinds of medical systems,
and the purpose of this paper is both to provide an introduction to the ®eld of IV and to
Artificial Intelligence in Medicine 22 (2001) 81±88
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