Health care technology is always advancing, giving doctors new and better options when it comes to diagnostic imaging. The DICOM PACS is the centerpiece of the new generation of medical imaging equipment. This integrated system not only makes for better and clearer images, but also allows for digital storage and transmission over computer networks. It is quicker, cleaner and far less expensive for hospitals and clinics.
DICOM is an abbreviation for digital imaging and communications in medicine. It’s a basic file formatting and communication system that is used by medical providers and clinicians. This technology is used in hospitals and laboratories for the storage of radiology images. These images include MRI, X-ray, CT and others. PACS is the computer system that are used to support DICOM. PACS is an abbreviation for picture archive and communication systems.
Such systems are very large and require a great deal of high-end video and data processing power. and therefore are not cheap. There are a number of different vendors that sell these systems to health care facilities. The DICOM protocol is now used in virtually all branches of medicine, including cardiology and pathology.
These two systems working together also provide presentation states ans structured reports and measurements. The goal in developing these systems is to provide affordable image storage, fast retrieval of the image, easy access to to various modality images and multiple access at a variety of locations. Being able to accomplish all of this electronically reduces the task of having to retrieve, file and transport radiology films manually.
There are four components to a PACS. The first is the modality that is used to create the patient image, such as an MRI or CT. The second part is a computer network, whereby these image files and patient data can be transmitted. The third component is a PC containing DICOM reader software, hooked up to a high-res monitor for viewing the images. Finally, there are the servers, hard drives and portable media for storage of the data.
With the evolution of web-based technology, the PACS has more power to furnish quick, efficient access to these images. Reporting and interpretation of the data has also been greatly improved. A PACS can reduce the cost and effort necessary for processing and storing traditional film images.
In terms of this storage device system, the medical images are generally placed on PACS system for access. It’s recommended that providers have a process to recover these images in the event of a mistake or natural disaster. This is known as disaster recovery. It can be accomplished by creating redundant back up and storage processes.
Each facility is left to its own devices when it comes to creating recovery protocols. They are necessary, however, and while duplicates should never be needed, it’s a good idea to have access to them in case the worst should happen. Additionally, these protocols enable medical facilities to stay compliant with HIPA.
Learn more about DICOM PACS from Dr. Anne Harvester, resident expert on the latest medical imaging and patient record storage systems.