CD and DVD for radiologic images pick up momentum

March 19, 2001

Touted as powerful, cost-effective, and reliable methods for storing and delivering digital data, CD-R and DVD-R may soon gain ground as storage media for radiologic images as well. Proponents say portability, cross-platform compatibility, and low cost

Touted as powerful, cost-effective, and reliable methods for storing and delivering digital data, CD-R and DVD-R may soon gain ground as storage media for radiologic images as well.

Proponents say portability, cross-platform compatibility, and low cost per gigabyte are making CD-R (compact disc-recordable) and DVD-R (digital video disc-recordable) media more and more attractive for use by healthcare applications, such as archiving and distributing PACS images or hospital electronic medical records.

Both CD-R and DVD-R have similar advantages:

?cross-platform compatibility;
?legal admissibility of CD/DVD in most courts;
?speed of data access due to random accessibility; and
?existing installed base of CD/DVD readers for media distribution.


"In a nutshell, your data are in a legal, durable form readable by virtually all operating systems," said Jim Bolander, vice president of sales and marketing for Young Minds, a California firm offering a DVD-R solution for healthcare.

While the two technologies have the same form factor, DVD-R discs can store six times as much data as CD-R.

"Like CD-R, DVD-R is a durable write-once media that cannot be accidentally erased or altered," Bolander said. "The disc provides storage capacity for any kind of digital information (video, audio, and data) in a standardized format."

DVD-R is the indicated choice for digital storage of radiologic data, according to Bolander, in the following situations:

?storage on media with a standardized format is needed;
?studies to be distributed exceed the 650-Mb CD-R limit; and
?legal need dictates long-term storage of medical data on an unalterable media recognized by U.S. courts.


In spite of their apparent advantages over traditional media, both CD-R and DVD-R have been slow to make inroads in the healthcare marketplace.

"Although healthcare in general has been very receptive to technological innovations, certain segments of the healthcare market have been slow to adopt CD-R as an archival and distribution media," Bolander said.

Adoption of DVD-R as a replacement for CD-R has been slowed even further due to its expense (DVDs cost about $35 each, compared with $1 for each CD). Furthermore, only one DVD writer is available on the market (the Pioneer S201 at $5395), and a misperception persists that DVD-R suffers from the same nonstandardization issues that plague DVD-RW (re-writable) and DVD-RAM (random access memory), Bolander said.

Nevertheless, he believes the DVD-R market will accelerate once cheaper DVD-R writers become available and once the market discovers that DVD-R has a universal nonproprietary format.

Some facilities have turned to DVD already.

"We settled on DVD-R technology because of the capacity of the DVD, the widespread availability of DVD drives with PC, and the ready access to files stored on the DVD," said Kimberlee Potter, Ph.D., technical director of the magnetic resonance microscopy facility in the department of cellular pathology at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology Annex in Rockville, MD. The Institute uses DVD-R technology to archive large quantities of MRI data.

"The only limitation we have run into is an ISO9000 standard that sets a 2-Gb limit on the files read back by the DVD-ROM connected to our Silicon Graphics Octane," Potter said. "SGI is aware of this problem. However, we are able to read back our DVDs with the same DVD-ROM connected to a PC with a Linux operating system."