Digital Images in Academic Plastic Surgery: A Novel and Secure Methodology for Use in Clinical Practice and Research

Rami R. Hallac, Blaike M. Dumas, James R. Seaward, Royiel Herrera, Christopher Menzies, Alex A. Kane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Digital photographs have become an integral part in plastic and reconstructive surgery. They are significant in clinical research and outcome evaluation. There is a need for effective and secure methods to store, search, and retrieve those photographs. We developed a Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliant searchable database to archive and index clinical information for clinical and research purposes. Methods: At our craniofacial clinic, digital media (2-D, 3-D, and 4-D photographs) are obtained on a regular basis to evaluate and document treatment outcomes. In addition, patients are asked to enroll in our institutional review board (IRB)-approved imaging database. Daily, we link all digital photographs to the patient encounter through EPIC’s Media Manager. This allows us to automatically identify and extract new digital media, patient demographics, diagnosis codes, relevant providers, and the text of the clinic notes to our digital database. To search our extensive database, we employed the VIEW search engine. Results: To date, our database contains more than 277 000 images of 11 000 patients where more than 1900 patients are enrolled in the IRB study. This search engine allows full-text search with query response time between 2 and 5 seconds. The search engine displays the returned through a web page interface, which includes image thumbnails and the relevant part of the clinic note. In addition, a patient-specific chart allows the user to examine all patient notes and photographs. Conclusion: Our solution allows providers and researchers to retrieve all digital media securely and efficiently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)552-555
Number of pages4
JournalCleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019


  • content-based image retrieval
  • database
  • medical imaging
  • picture archiving
  • search engine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


Dive into the research topics of 'Digital Images in Academic Plastic Surgery: A Novel and Secure Methodology for Use in Clinical Practice and Research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this