Versatility highlights PACS offerings

February 6, 2006

PACS offerings at the RSNA meeting demonstrated vendors’ efforts to come to grips with the reality of medical practice. They addressed issues of data handling in an environment populated by CT and MR scanners cranking out ever more data, subsequent demands for volumetric imaging, and the need to keep track of a spectrum of differing requirements among sites.

PACS offerings at the RSNA meeting demonstrated vendors' efforts to come to grips with the reality of medical practice. They addressed issues of data handling in an environment populated by CT and MR scanners cranking out ever more data, subsequent demands for volumetric imaging, and the need to keep track of a spectrum of differing requirements among sites.

GE Healthcare spotlighted its Centricity PACS 3.0 package, in particular the Centricity Radiology Business Intelligence Dashboard Portal - software that provides detailed reports for radiology business and workflow. The Portal can evaluate a department or imaging center by comparing current performance with previously established benchmarks.

GE's Dashboard continuously monitors how resources are being used, providing customers with Web-enabled access to utilization information, anytime and anywhere, on a PC or laptop. Administrators receive real-time feedback on exam status, patient wait time, equipment utilization, and radiology staff and department performance.

The portal provides a bird's-eye view of how a department functions, which is invaluable for a central site with multiple locations, according to the company. Whatever is going on in those locations is revealed in real-time, in a user-friendly way.

To address increasing digitization, Candelis, a division of data storage specialist Procom Technology, has developed a new product line for archiving and routing digital images. The ImageGrid 700 and 1000 were introduced at the 2005 RSNA meeting. ImageGrid provides cost-effective, fully integrated storage solutions, according to the company. The DICOM-standard server appliances increase the speed of digital image access and routing, simplify management, and provide reliable storage.

With these new products, Candelis focuses on problems PACS encounter with the development of digital technology, while also addressing the increasing sophistication of imaging technology. Candelis CEO Alex Razmjoo said imaging centers, clinics, and medium-sized hospitals are demonstrating a growing need to archive the large image files generated by high-resolution imaging modalities such as multislice CT and high-powered MR systems.

"With most PACS, the system can handle only so many in a series of images," he said. "Once they run out of partitions, they have to push these images offline to a tape device or a slower medium. Not all images are always available online. Our systems don't have this limitation. Users don't need to migrate images to storage. Everything is online."

Candelis brought its experience with network-attached storage technology into the development of ImageGrid 700 and 1000, supplying the products with an appliance-based foundation and industry standard DICOM architecture that enables routing and storage of digital imaging over a network.

"Many times, images need to be routed to different locations, so we built in the routing of images, which can go right into physicians' homes," Razmjoo said.

ImageGrid's internal database, appliance operating system, TCP/IP stack, disk I/O, and custom DICOM engine provide retrieval and routing speeds exceeding those of high-end PACS, according to the company. This embedded PACS capability also replaces complex servers and software, eliminating the need for specialized system administration skills and training. The ImageGrid server appliances offer versatility in environments where a PACS server has been deployed, as they work as a high-performance, reliable, and low-maintenance add-on archiving system as well as a DICOM router.

ImageGrid 700 and 1000 feature a Web-based system administration graphical user interface, self-diagnostic and reporting capabilities with e-mail alert, and built-in serviceability and redundancy with hot-swap, RAID-based disk drives.

IT developer MedWeb introduced its Advanced 3D Web PACS, which enables distribution of studies from 16- and 32-slice scanners in a manageable 3D volume that can be easily displayed and navigated. The new system increases access to many 3D imaging functions and has features previously available only on advanced and expensive dedicated 3D workstations.

For a fraction of the price of a dedicated workstation, the Medweb PACS can be integrated into a conventional PACS infrastructure, act as a stand-alone PACS, or function as a modality PACS for increased demands created by new CT technology. The system enables isolation, sculpting, zoom-in, and 360° rotation of images. It also provides maximum intensity projection, multiplanar reconstruction, and various measurement and 3D cursor functions alongside conventional 2D image windows. Autosegmentation tools isolate bone, blood vessels, and other tissues via simple template buttons or customizable settings.

Users working on a standard PC can employ 3D templating and autosegmenting of image data from spiral CT scanners. The templating and sculpting tools are extended to surgeons, oncologists, and other physicians.