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Rays. 2003 Jan-Mar;28(1):73-81.

Picture archiving and communication in radiology.

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  • 1Istituto di Radiologia, Universit√† Cattolica del S. Cuore, Policlinico A. Gemelli, Roma, Italy.


After over 80 years of exclusive archiving of radiologic films, at present, in Radiology, digital archiving is increasingly gaining ground. Digital archiving allows a considerable reduction in costs and space saving, but most importantly, immediate or remote consultation of all examinations and reports in the hospital clinical wards, is feasible. The RIS system, in this case, is the starting point of the process of electronic archiving which however is the task of PACS. The latter can be used as radiologic archive in accordance with the law provided that it is in conformance with some specifications as the use of optical long-term storage media or with electronic track of change. PACS archives, in a hierarchical system, all digital images produced by each diagnostic imaging modality. Images and patient data can be retrieved and used for consultation or remote consultation by the reporting radiologist who requires images and reports of previous radiologic examinations or by the referring physician of the ward. Modern PACS owing to the WEB server allow remote access to extremely simplified images and data however ensuring the due regulations and access protections. Since the PACS enables a simpler data communication within the hospital, security and patient privacy should be protected. A secure and reliable PACS should be able to minimize the risk of accidental data destruction, and should prevent non authorized access to the archive with adequate security measures in relation to the acquired knowledge and based on the technological advances. Archiving of data produced by modern digital imaging is a problem now present also in small Radiology services. The technology is able to readily solve problems which were extremely complex up to some years ago as the connection between equipment and archiving system owing also to the universalization of the DICOM 3.0 standard. The evolution of communication networks and the use of standard protocols as TCP/IP can minimize problems of data and image remote transmission within the healthcare enterprise as well as over the territory. However, new problems are appearing as that of digital data security profiles and of the different systems which should ensure it. Among these, algorithms of electronic signature should be mentioned. In Italy they are validated by law and therefore can be used in digital archives in accordance with the law.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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