Picture archiving and communication system (PACS) is a modality of imaging technology which helps in image transmission from the site of acquisition of images, to multiple different sites at different locations. This technology not only is economical (film-less department), is also convenient to access multiple modalities (radiographs, CT, MR, ultrasound etc..) simultaneously at multiple locations within hospital or across the globe.
PACS system usually is an integration of:
- input from digital or digitIzed analog devices, which may be any radiological modality like X-ray, CT, MRI or ultrasound
- image acquisition device
- image storage device/server for short or long term storage of data
- transmission network: local or web based
- display stations: imaging workstation and user interface
- camera: to convert into hard-copy images on need basis
- integration with radiology information system (RIS) and hospital information system (HIS)
A patient may undergo a battery of radiological investigations at separate locations, which needs to be accessed by multiple radiologists (including subspecialists), and multiple treating physicians in different locations (sometimes across the globe). A system for rapid transfer of images, while maintaining the original quality is a vital, however complex technological need.
Also, hard-copy films are difficult to store and archive, and the quality deteriorates over time.
Capital cost was a limitation previously, however its being compensated over time. Major limitation of PACS or teleradiology devices, is the quality of images, which may be compromised by suboptimal resolution display monitors at different location. Also, any technical failure, and improper back-up storage may hamper the data retrieval as well as massive data loss may happen.