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The Aim of the Project

TELEHEPASCAN aims to accomplish a pilot project which will allow the at distance ultrasound screening and monitoring of high risk patients for developing hepatocellular carcinoma. The way we imagined the implementation of this project is the construction of a telemedicine network. The terminals will be situated into the general practitioner's office (where the examination will be performed and the images will be captured). The kernel is situated into an expert medical centre (where the images will be analyzed in a partially automatic manner). The automatic system for the interpretation of ultrasound images is designed as CAS - Compuer Aided Solution, having as well a comunication role, knowlledge management role, helping the medical expert to take the propper diagnostic decision.
The originality and newity of this project consists in integration of a telemedicine system into the concept of oncologic screening, using the ultrasound equipment, largely available, noninvazive and cheap. The complexity of the project results from the great work volume compressed using modern information and communication techniques, the high speed of information processing, and, finnally, the significant decrease of diagnosis expenses.

The Objectives

TELEHEPASCAN is an interdisciplinary project which includes the newest ICT solutions for medicine. From this point of view, the major aim of this project is the optimization of the screening and surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with risk, in order to increase the rate of early diagnosis, for an efficacy curative treatment. In order that TELEHEPASCAN reaches this goal, it is necessary to build a telemedicine network, fit for ultrasound screening of an important number of patients with chronic hepatic diseases (especially liver cirrhosis) for early diagnosis of HCC. Even more, we are thinking of doing an expert programme which will characterize the texture of the hepatic parenchyma and will separate the cirrhosis patients from the early chronic hepatic diseases or normal patients on the basis of ultrasound examination. The telemedicine network will include many captures and transmission of medical data terminals (mostly echographic sections), a digital system of communication, built compatible with Health Grid technology and a nucleus capable of processing, recognize, analyze and classify the images. The system will be built like CAS - Computer Aided Solution, in order to permit communication in both ways. From this point of view an experienced doctor must be capable to integrate into the system his own knowledge and abilities, being responsible for the result. The system will give, also, the software solutions, necessary for the friendly access to general information about diagnosis and treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma, and changes of the medical legislation. For reaching this goal, the TELEHEPASCAN project has the following scientific and technical objectives:
O1: the early identification of any focal hepatic lesion in hepatic cirrhosis patients for an early and accurate diagnosis.
O2: the elaboration of an echographic screening protocol of HCC, fit for the needs of the medical community.
O3: the development of a complex and complete medical data base (including echographic images), compatible with Health Grid technology, which will permit the elaboration of important studies on HCC, fit for the international and european collaboration.
O4: the development of an integrated diagnosis system (including general practice physicians and specialists), using a telemedicine network and an intelligent software system for the processing of the images.
O5: the development of a CAS system, in order to identify the risk, using the processing of echographic data- a predictive interactive analysis, and computerized technics for choosing and pre-classifing images.
O6: the implementation of a management interactiv system for the specialists' knowledge, for an efficient evaluation of the risk.
O7: the assurance of the confidentiality of the medical data and the respect of the medical laws regarding the use of the medical information.

Known since antiquity, cancer represents today a major public health problem, by the dimension of the human, medical, economical and also social implications. The social impact of the disease upon pacients, upon their families, and over the entire community, is not measured only through social isolation and blight of the affected ones, but also by the possibility of job loss, which evolves in the economical dependency of the pacients. The economical impact is translated in direct costs related to the hospitalization, medical staff, medicine, investigations, in indirect costs caused by loss of productivity hrough morbidity and premature death, and also in psycho-social costs, related to the abatement of the quality of life, suffering and change of the life conditions.