Picture archiving and communication system (PACS)
A picture archiving and communication system is a medical imaging technology which provides economical storage and convenient access to images from multiple modalities (source machine types). 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 picture archiving and communication system consists of four major components: The imaging modalities such as X-ray plain film (PF), computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (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, it has the ability to deliver timely and efficient access to images, interpretations, and related data. Also it breaks down the physical and time barriers associated with traditional film-based image retrieval, distribution, and display.
Most PACSs handle images from various medical imaging instruments, including ultrasound (US), magnetic resonance (MR), Nuclear Medicine imaging, positron emission tomography (PET), computed tomography (CT), endoscopy (ES), mammograms (MG), digital radiography (DR), computed radiography (CR), Histopathology, ophthalmology, etc. Additional types of image formats are always being added. Clinical areas beyond radiology; cardiology, oncology, gastroenterology, and even the laboratory are creating medical images that can be incorporated into PACS.