Components, Uses & Benefits of Picture Archiving & Communication System (PACS)

Components, Uses & Benefits of Picture Archiving & Communication System (PACS)
If your work is associated with radiology, then you must have heard about the term Picture Archiving and Communication System. It is a picture archiving and communication system that stores images and reports and does not use the old method of manually filling and transporting film jackets. 

A PACS consists of four major components. When combined with emerging web technology, PACS can deliver timely and give access to images and related data. 

Furthermore, it reduces the time barriers associated with film-based retrieval and display. The majority of PACS can handle images from different imaging instruments, including magnetic resonance, computed tomography, digital radiography, and more. 

Four Components of PACS

Picture Archiving and Communication System consist of four components, which include:

1. Image Modalities is the imaging system for scanning a patient in producing a medical image. 
2. The workstation allows radiologists and doctors to view and study the image. 
3. Secures the network to the database for the image to be downloaded and transferred. 
4. Archives for storage: It is another main component in which the image and other documents can be available for the people who have access to view it. 

Image Modalities (Image Acquisition Devices)

These modalities are interfaced with the PACS server. The major roles of using acquisition gateway computers are to acquire images from the image modalities and convert the format of data from the manufacturer’s specification to the PACS standard format. The two methods of image acquisition are the digitization of films and digital acquisition. The digitization of films is the main method to convert radiology projections into digital images. 

The second method of image acquisition is the capturing of digital images without the need for imaging plates used in radiography. 

Communication Networks

The PACS is the network of moving the medical data between the components of PACS and other systems and to remote locations. Like other computer networks, PACS provides a way to communicate between image modalities, review WSs, PACS server display, and RIS systems. 

Also, the networks refer to the physical and logical way of designing these networks. The five main topologies used in medical environments are Tree, Bus, Mesh, and Ring. 

PACS Archive and Server

The patient’s information and imaging examination are sent to the PACS server for archiving. The PACS server has two components: storage media and archive system. The data from the short-term level are retrieved in 2 seconds, whereas those from the long-term level are retrieved in £3 minutes. 

PACS servers have important functions like getting images from examinations through securing portals, automatically recovering important correlation images, determining ideal complexity, and brightening parameters for displaying images. 

Display WSs

It is again another important component of the PACS network. It is a hardware component and replaces the manual lightbox of the radiology system. Display WSs help radiologists in making the primary diagnosis; thus, they are also named diagnostic WSs. 

These are composed of a local storage database, processing software, resource management, and more. 

HL7 and DICOM standards

HL7 is a standard-text-based information format, whereas DICOM incorporates a correspondence portal. DICOM is conceivable to exchange medical information like RIS, PACS, and HIS. By modifying the DICOM standard, the medical images can be created from modalities, and manufacturers might be interfaced as a health care system. 

Types of Images

The majority of PACS handle images from medical imaging instruments, including magnetic resonance, endoscopy, positron emission tomography, digital radiology, and more. Other types of image formats can always be added. 

Uses of PACS

PACS has four major uses. Firstly, it replaces hard-copy-based means of managing medical images. With the decreasing price of digital storage, PACS offers a growing cost and space advantage over film archives. Secondly, it expands on the possibilities of conventional systems by providing capabilities of off-site viewing and reporting. 

Furthermore, PACS provides the electronic platform for radiology images interfacing with medical automation systems like EHR, Practice Management Software, and more. It is also used by radiology personnel to manage the workflow of patient exams. 

Advantages of Combining PACS with Radiology Information System (RIS)

PACS offers different benefits to healthcare professionals. For instance, for the diagnostician, it enhances diagnosis and improves access to past and current patient records. 

For physicians, it delivers better patient outcomes, reduces the length of stay and legal costs due to maladministration on the loss of films. It offers a shorter examination time to patients, reduces patient inconvenience in attending hospitals for examinations and reexaminations. 

It also reduces the chances of adverse reactions to contrast agents. Furthermore, with PACS, patient radiology reports are digitally stored. The range of tools offers better visualization of images as they can be modified electronically for visual enlargement. 

The cloud-based systems make it easier to see images and reports by using software on digital devices. Another benefit of using PACS is it lets you store 2D images with 3D images. 

It also allows a chronological view of the patient’s radiology history. It also provides remote access and is being incorporated into other medical fields like oncology, dermatology, and cardiology. 

Final Words 

A full PACS should provide a point of access for images and related data. However, until PACS penetration is complete, the digital imaging doesn't connect to a central PACS that may exist. Such systems are not connected to the departmental information system. 

All PACS should also interface with hospital information systems (HIS) and Radiology Information System (RIS). A radiology PACS is deployed alongside RIS. The RIS is used to schedule and record a patient’s radiology history. The radiologists are not the only ones to be convinced of PACs, but also physicians and hospital professionals. 
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