Intro to Radiology Radiology is a fast growing area of the health profession in most hospitals and private clinics all over the US. With the ability to quickly diagnose such health issues as broken bones, cancer, and abnormalities of the soft tissues of the body, along with being able to use sonography to see a fetus in the womb and other tasks, radiology will soon be able to diagnose any health issue that a patient brings to a physician.
What is PACS?
The PACS stands for Picture Archival and Communication System.
These technology systems allow medical images to be stored on compact optical disks rather than in large, costly, file rooms.
The major components of a PACS system are:
1. Image acquisition system
2. Control Computer
3. Image Display work Stations
4. Image Archiving system
5. Computer network (LAN or WAN)
The different radiology systems that can utilize and access the PACS system are
- MR scanner
- CT scanner
- Computed Radiography unit
- Nuclear Medicine Cameras
- PET scanner
Components of the PACS The main component of the PACS is the control computer. The control computer is used to store the images taken during procedures and distribute them around the hospital when needed. The images can also be printed on film if a hard copy is needed for another facility or for reference in a facility outside the hospital (such as a private clinic). A good control computer should interface with the Radiology Information System (RIS) and the Hospital Information System (HIS). The control computer can be found in any of the departments of a hospital, but it will most likely be found in the radiology or nuclear medicine departments.
The Image Display Network
All images can be accessed and viewed from the image display network stations The purpose of the image display work stations are to enable radiologists to make diagnoses on these images while viewing them on a computer screen. The monitors needed for these stations must be of a very high resolution. The minimum size of these monitors is 2048x2048 pixels. Sometimes one will find two monitors together in one workspace. This allows the radiologist to compare the two images, the most recent to the last image taken at a previous visit and shows any improvements that the patient may have made.
Image Archiving System
type of media needed to archive the information would be RAIDs or redundant arrays of inexpensive disks.
This is because short term archiving is rapid access, in which the information needs to be accessed quickly and has to be on hand whenever necessary.
types of medias used for long term archiving are optical disks or a magnetic tape.
type of archiving is for images that can be stored over long periods of time and do not need to be accessed right away.
All computers within the PAC system are connected to a network.
This computer network facilitates the transmission of images to various areas within the radiology or nuclear medicine department.
can be set up in other departments of the hospital
Images can be sent to those departments if needed
If other facilities outside of the hospital are connected to a network that is shared by the hospital’s PACS the images can then be transferred to the locations outside the department and also outside the hospital
Sometimes the images can be transferred over a large distance such as state to state
The term for the transmission of images over a distance is “teleradiology”.
Advantages to PACS
offset expenses of film and related labor,
reduce file room clerical FTEs (or File Transfer Errors),
eliminate the problem of lost film that results in lost revenue and repeat exams.
Existing file rooms will decrease in size and new projects will require smaller file management areas when images are stored on file instead of on film.
improves staff productivity because they will be better able to access images to diagnose results.
able to simplify the operational workflow in diagnostic imaging services by automatically allowing access to images and reports which with then be simultaneously accessible to radiology and clinical staff.
improve the productivity of imaging devices because there is less time spent filming and processing studies
Problems with the PACS
there are many vendors providing medical imaging devices with different means of communication between the stations.
a system of standards was developed in order to allow the different systems to communicate with each other and share the same images.
“ This problem was debated among the radiology community through the American College of Radiology (ACR) and in industry through the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) In early 1983 the ACR-NEMA Digital Imaging and Communication Standards Committee was founded.”
From this committee, a system called DICOM was created.
DICOM stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine.
Does PACS Really Make A Difference?
According to the graph, Consumer Trends research about the factors that are most important to patients when they select a hospital show that the highest percentage was the hospital having the latest and most high-tech equipment and technology.
Not only is the PACS the most up-to-date and accommodating electronic system in the radiology and nuclear medicine departments today, it is also faster, easier and more efficient, both in cost and time management.
The amount of money and space saved in using PACS instead of films and a developing room, could equal more money being spent on the radiology department as a whole and updating other technology and equipment.