Digital imaging overview

Semin Roentgenol. 2003 Jul;38(3):200-15. doi: 10.1016/s0037-198x(03)00062-2.


Digital imaging consists of digital acquisition modalities, image, and information management systems. All modalities are available to be purchased as digital acquisition devices. Image management has been the domain for PACSs. PACSs are complex systems designed to transmit, store, and display medical images. They use and rely on many types of different information and display technologies. The initial focus for PACSs has been on solving the engineering issues associated with the transfer of large image data sets and the suitability of softcopy displays for diagnosis particular to the human visual system. For operating within a centralized radiology department, these are largely solved. However, for enterprise wide dissemination and distribution, there are still challenges in the form of expedient transfer syntaxes and image quality, but these are also being effectively addressed. Information management is the domain of the RIS. One of the goals of radiology management should encompass the development of a robust practice environment that emphasizes workflow enhancements with seamless integration of decision support tools. The concept of "person-machine" systems emphasizes taking full advantage of both human and machine capabilities with a capacity to grow and change function. As the computer capabilities increase, more jobs can be relinquished to the machine. The physician can then focus on tasks that require more complex judgment and comprehension. The goal of this human-machine hybrid is to have more power than either of its components alone. This multifaceted role will most likely be embedded in the background having agents query and retrieve context specific information to be presented to the user. As augmenters of human talent, computers can turn data into information and information into knowledge. Medical imaging is a beneficiary of the information technology developments driven by the consumer and business sectors. Although these applications of information technologies are not a solution to every problem, it certainly can bring the radiology department much closer to the desired ideal operational model. Even though there are many challenges to overcome, the benefits derived from a successful RIS/PACS implementation can be instrumental toward achieving a level of excellence in clinical service, teaching, and research that is unrivaled. Strategies for change management and quality improvement should begin by considering the entire chain of events from image acquisition through display to communication of a report.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computer Communication Networks
  • Humans
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement / methods*
  • Radiographic Image Interpretation, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Radiology Information Systems
  • Systems Integration
  • Technology, Radiologic / methods