A picture archiving and communication system (PACS) is a high-speed, graphical, computer network system for the storage, recovery, and display of radiologic images (ultrasound, x-ray, computed tomography, positron emission tomography, endoscopy, and magnetic resonance imaging). It is a medical imaging technology that provides economical storage and convenient access to images from multiple modalities, replacing conventional films with digital images. It also links the report for imaging studies with the imaging study, thereby making possible to view both the images and their respective report at the same time. PACS resolve problems associated with conventional films. For example, films are only available in one place at a time and are frequently associated to delay in patient care when they are not immediately available for the treating physician. Patient studies can be viewed from any computer connected to the system.
A typical PACS is composed of a network with reasonable bandwidth, a digital imaging device or modality, archive/routing software, diagnostic workstations and generally some interplay with the hospital or radiology information system.
PACS has four main uses: Radiology workflow management, electronic image integration platform (with hospital information systems, electronic medical records and radiology information systems), remote access (off-site viewing and reporting, distance education and telediagnosis), and hard-copy replacement.
The benefits of PACS are: direct cost saving, decreased consumption of radiographic film, decreased labor cost, increased integration between departments and facilities, productivity improvements, better image quality, simultaneous viewing of the same images in multiple locations, and decreased time to interpret and communicate diagnosis.