OpenIGTLink is an open-source network communication interface specifically designed for image-guided interventions. It aims to provide a plug-and-play unified real-time communications (URTC) in operating rooms (ORs) for image-guided interventions, where imagers, sensors, surgical robots,and computers from different vendors work cooperatively. This URTC will ensure the seamless data flow among those components and enable a closed-loop process of planning, control, delivery, and feedback. Examples applications of URTC include but not limited to:

  • Stereotactic surgical guidance using optical position sensor and medical image visualization software
  • Intraoperative image guidance using real-time MRI and medical image visualization software
  • Robot-assisted interventions using robotic devices and surgical planning software

The specification of OpenIGTLink is open, and can be used without any license fee; hence OpenIGTLink is suitable for both industrial and academic developers. We also provide a reference implementation of the protocol as a C/C++ library.


The specification of the OpenIGTLink protocol and it’s reference C/C++ implementation are both provided to the public under the new BSD License. Unlike some other open-source licenses, it does not require that source code be distributed at all.


The OpenIGTLink project is primarily supported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH R01EB020667, PI: Junichi Tokuda). There are also several research projects that are supporting the development of OpenIGTLink including:


Institutes, Organizations


  1. Tokuda J, Fischer GS, Papademetris X, Yaniv Z, Ibanez L, Cheng P, Liu H, Blevins J, Arata J, Golby AJ, Kapur T, Pieper S, Burdette EC, Fichtinger G, Tempany CM, Hata N. OpenIGTLink: an open network protocol for image-guided therapy environment. Int J Med Robot. 2009 Dec;5(4):423-34.
  2. Arata J, Kozuka H, Kim HW, Takesue N, Vladimirov B, Sakaguchi M, Tokuda J, Hata N, Chinzei K, Fujimoto H. Open core control software for surgical robots. Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2010 May;5(3):211-20.
  3. Tokuda J, Fischer GS, DiMaio SP, Gobbi DG, Csoma C, Mewes PW, Fichtinger G, Tempany CM, Hata N. Integrated navigation and control software system for MRI-guided robotic prostate interventions. Comput Med Imaging Graph. 2010 Jan;34(1):3-8.
  4. Elhawary H, Liu H, Patel P, Norton I, Rigolo L, Papademetris X, Hata N, Golby AJ. Intraoperative real-time querying of white matter tracts during frameless stereotactic neuronavigation. Neurosurgery. 2011 Feb;68(2):506-16.
  5. Egger J, Tokuda J, Chauvin L, Freisleben B, Nimsky C, Kapur T, Wells W. Integration of the OpenIGTLink Network Protocol for image-guided therapy with the medical platform MeVisLab, Int J Med Robot. 2012 Sep;8(3):282-90.
  6. Tauscher S, Tokuda J, Schreiber G, Neff T, Hata N, Ortmaier T. OpenIGTLink interface for state control and visualisation of a robot for image-guided therapy systems. Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2015 Mar;10(3):285-92.
  7. Frank T, Krieger A, Leonard S, Patel NA, Tokuda J. ROS-IGTL-Bridge: an open network interface for image-guided therapy using the ROS environment. Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg. 2017 May 31. doi: 10.1007/s11548-017-1618-1. [Epub ahead of print]