Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

As Radiology departments move from film-based achievement and archiving “the hard copy film and document storage” became to digital acquisition and archiving “soft copy storage”, a multifaceted computer network has been produced to manage this soft copy images. This network is known as a  Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) and can be compared to a cybernetic film library”. This images are now stored on a digital media that are housed in PACS achieves.

What is PACS?

Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) is a sophisticated arrangement of hardware and software that can link in all modalities with digital output like in nuclear medicine, ultrasound, computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, angiography, mammography and radiography.
The acronym PACS can best be explained as follows:

P – Picture : the digital medical images
A – Archiving : the electronic storage of the images.
C – Communication: the routing or retrieval and sending, and displaying of the images.
S – System: the specialized computer network that manages the complete system.

The connection of this several equipment types and modalities to a PACS is complex. Principles in radiology have been develop to ensure that all manufacturers and types of equipment are able to connect and efficiently transfer images and data. Current ideals include DICOM (Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine) and HL7 (Health Care Level 7). Although this standards may not always provide for a rapid functionality between devices, they do allow for resolution of connectivity problems.
For best competence, this PACS should be integrated with the Radiology Information Systems (RIS) or the Hospital Information Systems (HIS). Because these information systems support the operations of an imaging department through exam scheduling, patient registration, report archiving, and film tracking, incorporation with PACS sustains integrity of patient data and records and helps overall efficiency.
When a PACS is used, instead of hard-copy radiographs that should be processed, handled, viewed, transported, and stored, the soft copy digital images are processed with the use of a computer, viewed on a screen, and stored by electronic means. Most PACS are using web browsers to allow easy access to the images by users from any place. Doctors may view these digital radiologic images from their personal computer at almost any location, as well as their home.

Advantages of Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS)

Some of the Recognized Advantages of PACS are consisting of the following:
  • Eliminates of less efficient old-style film libraries and their characteristic problems of physical space requirements for hard copy images (x-ray films).
  • Convenient search for images and results and easy retrieval.
  • Fast electronic transfer of images inside the hospital, and other areas such as:  clinics, operating rooms, and treatment units.
  • Ease in consulting outside specialist teleradiology. (Teleradiography is the electronic transmission of diagnostic images from one location to another for purpose of interpretation and consultation.)
  • Simultaneous viewing of images at multiple locations.
  • Elimination of misplaced, damage, or missing films
  • Increase in efficiency of reporting exams with soft copy images compared with hard copy radiographic images (xray films)
  • Decreased of the health and environmental effect associated with chemical processing, as a result of reduced in use.
  • The progress of computer applications in Radiologic Technology has led to new career paths for Radiologic Technologists. The PACS Admin and the Diagnostic Imaging Information Technologist are new positions that many Radiologic Technologist are pursuing.
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