Handheld PCs can display PACS images

November 4, 2002

Storage of large image files on handheld computers is no longer a problem, according to a recent paper. The study describes an interface between a PACS and a Palm operating system-based handheld using commercially available software (J Digit Imaging

Storage of large image files on handheld computers is no longer a problem, according to a recent paper. The study describes an interface between a PACS and a Palm operating system-based handheld using commercially available software (J Digit Imaging 2002;15 Suppl 1:237-239).

"Consultation-quality medical images can be transferred from a PACS and viewed on a handheld computer using current technology," said Dr. Terrance J. Lewis of Kalamazoo Radiology PC in Michigan.

Lewis built the system using a Visor Prism palm computer (from Handspring) with a Motorola 33-MHz Dragonball VZ processor running Palm OS 3.5.2H and a Hagiwara 16-Mb memory expansion module. Connection to the PACS workstation is through a Visor Prism serial cradle and hot sync software (Palm desktop).

Image conversion to palm-compatible format is done with Firepad Fireconverter 3.7.1 using screen capture mode and 16-bit color conversion. Image viewing on the palm computer is accomplished with Fireviewer 6.0.

With this configuration, a palm computer equipped with a 160 x 160-pixel display and 16-bit color depth can display useable images if the viewing software supports a larger image file size and zooming function.

As expected, image quality is best when no compression is used and small matrix images such as CT, MRI, and nuclear are converted, Lewis said.

"Handheld PCs are becoming ubiquitous in medicine," he said. "They offer a true point of service computer system, available at bedside or in the lab, office, or classroom."

With wireless systems rapidly being introduced everywhere in the hospital enterprise for a variety of communication and information handling purposes, imaging data must be a key component of the information packet if it is to remain central to clinical decision-making processes, Lewis said.

He sees consultation and teaching among the applications for the palm capability. Transfer of images to a clinical colleague's handheld could be done via the infrared data (IrDa) ports, the hot sync cradle, or e-mail. It's also possible to include the report as a text file if it is in a word-processed document.

In the classroom, a large teaching file could be stored on a 64-Mb smart media card. Users could then transfer cases to each other using the computers' IrDa ports.