Benefits of Digital Imaging and PACS

Last night I had dinner with an old high school friend who is a Pathologist. We enjoyed the best steaks and seafood in Texas (Willie G’s) and discussed everything from old high school memories to improvements in Immunohistochemistry, Clinical Imaging and PACS.

As he explained his work in the diagnosis of abnormal cells using immunohistochemical staining, I sat in amazement thinking I can’t even pronounce immuno-histo-chemical. During this very detailed lesson on antibodies, antigens and apoptosis we discussed the viewing and examination of images taken using a digital camera attached to a transmission electron microscope. Understanding only the imaging portion of the discussion, I talked about the advances in clinical imaging and PACS as they relate to pathology and the development of pathology specific tools referencing my recent Blog posting on Pathology PACS.

My former classmate was intrigued by the topic of Pathology PACS as he understood the basics of PACS but was not aware of the many benefits that are realized through the use of digital imaging and PACS. With much enthusiasm, I proceeded to deliver my standard sermon on Computed Radiography and PACS workflow. After a generous serving of Steak Opelousas and a few Reds by the glass my friend asked, “So what is the core benefit of PACS?”

My response was simple but almost as impressive as his Immunohistochemistry lecture; the key benefit of PACS is Image and Information Exchange. I also mentioned many other benefits of digital imaging and PACS including; improved image quality, greater image accessibility, unlimited image reproducibility, dynamic image manipulation and overall increased efficiency in image acquisition and review. I concluded with the statement, “I believe the biggest benefit of PACS is the ability to store and share images and related data with anyone, anytime, anywhere.”

When properly administered, PACS provides the cure for the lost image and eliminates lengthy image return/courier times. PACS over a secure wide area network or a secure internet connection allows viewers the ability to collaborate within minutes after image acquisition even if they are hundreds of miles apart. PACS has done for images what electronic mail did for the pen and pad.

PACS may not have as great of an impact on life as confocal laser scanning microscopy but PACS has revolutionized clinical image review, retention and communications and it doesn’t matter if the images come from a flat plate CR system or a scanning electron microscope. Write back and tell me your thoughts and what benefits you have recognized by implementing a PACS.

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