We describe our all-digital, filmless, department of nuclear medicine, which has been fully operational for 3 years. The approach to the design and implementation of a nuclear medicine picture archiving and communication system (PACS) is discussed, as well as enhancements found to be necessary or desirable during our 3 years of experience using the system. Studies are initially viewed on remote monitors in the reading room, and transferred from multiple vendor's computers to the PACS by floppy disc network. Scans are analyzed on networked image workstations using a variety of software imaging tools. Reports are dictated into a digital voice storage system, allowing the referring physician immediate telephone access. The dictated report is typed into a computer, electronically edited, reviewed, billed, and printed for appropriate distribution on an integrated medical information system. The final report is stored on the PACS, along with the scan image and other patient information on 1-gigabyte removable optical discs. Two networked optical disc drives allow us to have approximately 3 years of our department's studies available instantly, allowing recall of previous studies for comparison with the current scan. Emergency night and weekend studies are sent via modem over normal phone lines to the on-call physician, who has a similar image workstation at home. Digital image storage allows for easy manipulation of the data, such as gray scale manipulation and cine (movie) display. Cost analysis shows significant savings compared with a film-based department. We conclude that an all-digital nuclear medicine department is practical, cost effective, and beneficial to both patients and staff.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging