Exchange of databases between hospitals needs efficient and reliable transmission and storage techniques to cut down the cost of health care. This exchange involves a large amount of vital patient information such as biosignals and medical images. Interleaving one form of data such as 1-D signal over digital images can combine the advantages of data security with efficient memory utilization (Norris, Englehart & Lovely, 2001), but nothing prevents the user from manipulating or copying the decrypted data for illegal uses. Embedding vital information of patients inside their scan images will help physicians make a better diagnosis of a disease. In order to solve these issues, watermark algorithms have been proposed as a way to complement the encryption processes and provide some tools to track the retransmission and manipulation of multimedia contents (Barni, Podilchuk, Bartolini & Delp, 2001; Vallabha, 2003). A watermarking system is based on an imperceptible insertion of a watermark (a signal) in an image. This technique is adapted here for interleaving graphical ECG signals within medical images to reduce storage and transmission overheads as well as helping for computer-aided diagnostics system. In this chapter, we present a new wavelet-based watermarking method combined with the EZW coder. The principle is to replace significant wavelet coefficients of ECG signals by the corresponding significant wavelet coefficients belonging to the host image, which is much bigger in size than the mark signal. This chapter presents a brief introduction to watermarking and the EZW coder that acts as a platform for our watermarking algorithm.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Watermarking: Inserting or embedding a kind of digital information inside other kinds or similar kinds of digital information.
Embedding: Fixing information in other information firmly and deeply.
Wavelet: A kind of transform domain.
Medical Image: Digital images from different parts of the body that are acquired by MRI, CT, Mammography, and so forth; their role here is host in the watermarking process.
ECG: Electrocardiograph signals that are recorded from heart activation.
EZW: Embedded zero-tree wavelet.