The Image-Guided Surgery Toolkit IGSTK: An open source C++ software toolkit

Andinet Enquobahrie, Patrick Cheng, Kevin Gary, Luis Ibanez, David Gobbi, Frank Lindseth, Ziv Yaniv, Stephen Aylward, Julien Jomier, Kevin Cleary

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


This paper presents an overview of the image-guided surgery toolkit (IGSTK). IGSTK is an open source C++ software library that provides the basic components needed to develop image-guided surgery applications. It is intended for fast prototyping and development of image-guided surgery applications. The toolkit was developed through a collaboration between academic and industry partners. Because IGSTK was designed for safety-critical applications, the development team has adopted lightweight software processes that emphasizes safety and robustness while, at the same time, supporting geographically separated developers. A software process that is philosophically similar to agile software methods was adopted emphasizing iterative, incremental, and test-driven development principles. The guiding principle in the architecture design of IGSTK is patient safety. The IGSTK team implemented a component-based architecture and used state machine software design methodologies to improve the reliability and safety of the components. Every IGSTK component has a well-defined set of features that are governed by state machines. The state machine ensures that the component is always in a valid state and that all state transitions are valid and meaningful. Realizing that the continued success and viability of an open source toolkit depends on a strong user community, the IGSTK team is following several key strategies to build an active user community. These include maintaining a users and developers' mailing list, providing documentation (application programming interface reference document and book), presenting demonstration applications, and delivering tutorial sessions at relevant scientific conferences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-33
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Digital Imaging
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Image-guided surgery
  • Open source
  • Registration
  • Tracking and agile software development
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Science Applications


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