Scientific Focus

The MICCAI Society is an important forum for medical image computing, computer-assisted intervention, and medical robotics. The multidisciplinary nature of these emerging fields brings together clinicians, bioscientists, computer scientists, engineers, physicists, and other researchers who are contributing to, and need to keep abreast of, advances in the methodology and applications.

Medical image computing techniques have a wide range of applications in medicine and bioscience. The clinical applications span non-interventional image interpretation and diagnostics, and a growing number of interventional methods, from minimally invasive techniques to computer-aided and robotic major surgery. Different types of image may require different types of processing, and advances in image acquisition systems continuously open up new possibilities for applications. All these applications require the manipulation and integration of medical image information. Many applications depend on integration of the image information with sensor data (e.g. from tracking systems), and/or effector control systems (e.g. robots or positioning devices), and/or visual displays or other feedback systems.

The breadth and complexity of different image types and different applications, plus the wide range of scientific and clinical backgrounds of those involved, have tended to encourage the development of numerous subgroups working on individual applications. To some extent, this is appropriate, and there is an obvious place for meetings focused on a specific application. Nevertheless, the applications all draw on a range of shared underlying medical image computing and engineering techniques. Different terminology for the same concepts and methods tends to be adopted by different groups working in isolation. Communication becomes more difficult, unnecessary duplication of effort follows, and cross-fertilisation between applications is reduced. There is a strong need for the unifying forum provided by the MICCAI Society and Conference series, which is complementary to groups and meetings focused on specific applications. The wide range of topics of relevance to MICCAI (see Scientific and Clinical Topics) reflects this cross-disciplinary approach.

Although many underlying techniques are the same across different applications, MICCAI emphasizes the fact that validation and further development of techniques almost always occur in the context of specific applications. There are many examples in the literature of a mathematical or scientific technique being presented as an advance without any real clinical or bioscience justification or validation. MICCAI wishes to avoid promoting unnecessarily obscure or complex methods that do not actually produce significant improvements in results, and equally to avoid publishing apparently new methods for solving problems, which are actually already well-established.