Picture archiving and communication system

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In medical imaging, "electronic picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) have been developed in an attempt to provide economical storage, rapid retrieval of images, access to images acquired with multiple modalities, and simultaneous access at multiple sites".[1] Electronic images and reports are transmitted digitally via PACS; this eliminates the need to manually file, retrieve, or transport film jackets. The universal format for PACS image storage and transfer is DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine). Non-image data, such as scanned documents, may be incorporated using consumer industry standard formats like PDF (Portable Document Format), once encapsulated in DICOM. A PACS consists of four major components: the imaging modalities such as CT and MRI, a secured network for the transmission of patient information, workstations for interpreting and reviewing images, and archives for the storage and retrieval of images and reports. Combined with available and emerging Web technology, PACS has the ability to deliver timely and efficient access to images, interpretations, and related data. PACS breaks down the physical and time barriers associated with traditional film-based image retrieval, distribution, and display.

Contents

Types of images

Most PACSs handle images from various medical imaging instruments, including ultrasound (US), magnetic resonance (MR), positron emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT), endoscopy (ENDO), mammograms (MG), direct radiography (DR), computed radiography (CR) ophthalmology, etc. (see DICOM Application areas).

Uses

PACS has four main uses:

  • Hard copy replacement: PACS replaces hard-copy based means of managing medical images, such as film archives. With the decreasing price of digital storage, PACSs provide a growing cost and space advantage over film archives in addition to the instant access to prior images at the same institution. Digital copies are referred to as Soft-copy.
  • Remote access: It expands on the possibilities of conventional systems by providing capabilities of off-site viewing and reporting (distance education, telediagnosis). It enables practitioners in different physical locations to access the same information simultaneously for teleradiology.
  • Electronic image integration platform: PACS provides the electronic platform for radiology images interfacing with other medical automation systems such as Hospital Information System (HIS), Electronic Medical Record (EMR), Practice Management Software, and Radiology Information System (RIS).
  • Radiology Workflow Management: PACS is used by radiology personnel to manage the workflow of patient exams.

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