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Comput Med Imaging Graph. 1998 Jan-Feb;22(1):25-30.

Assessment of commercial compression algorithms, of the lossy DCT and lossless types, applied to diagnostic digital image files.

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  • 1Radiation Physics Laboratory, IPPOKRATEIO General Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece. okkal@med.auth.gr


The need for diagnostic image compression of the lossy or irreversible type has been declining due to the rapid increase in commercially available formatted hard disk capacity. It is estimated that the latter has increased about three orders of magnitude in the past 14 years while the size of diagnostic image files has, of course, remained constant. During the same period, despite claims for significantly improved performance by vendors, it seems that only small progress has been made in commercial lossless and lossy compression algorithms. There is still no consensus for lossy compression to a level acceptable for diagnosis. This is mostly considered to be around a ratio of 10:1. However, acceptable compression ratios depend heavily on the type of images processed and may be compared with the 3:1 ratio produced by lossless algorithms. This last value was shown to increase to more than 5.5:1 for gamma-camera images when corrected for the noise content of individual bit planes and for the display capabilities of computer monitors. Therefore, any possible benefits of lossy over lossless compression become questionable when the currently available hard disk capacity and network transmission speed are considered against the inevitable loss of information in the lossy type of compression.

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