A picture archiving and communication system (PACS) is a medical imaging technology which provides economical storage and convenient access to images from multiple modalities (source machine types). Electronic images and reports are transmitted digitally via PACS; this eliminates the need to manually file, retrieve, or transport film jackets.
The universal format for PACS image storage and transfer is DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine). Non-image data, such as scanned documents, may be incorporated using consumer industry standard formats like PDF (Portable Document Format), once encapsulated in DICOM. A PACS consists of four major components: The imaging modalities such as X-ray plain film (PF), computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a secured network for the transmission of patient information, workstations for interpreting and reviewing images, and archives for the storage and retrieval of images and reports.
Combined with available and emerging web technology, PACS has the ability to deliver timely and efficient access to images, interpretations, and related data. PACS breaks down the physical and time barriers associated with traditional film-based image retrieval, distribution, and display.