Communications systems are the lifeblood of any hospital, but particularly within radiology departments where the ability to distinguish between benign and malignant findings quickly leads to better decisions in patient care. Forgoing repeat procedures cut costs as well when images are imported to the radiology PACS for transfer patients.
A recent American Journal of Roentgenology study, reported on by Health Imaging, concluded that repeat imaging of patients who had undergone CT or MRI before transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) were significantly lower than when those images were imported to the PACS. With TACE, the small blood vessels that supply blood and nutrients to the tumor are blocked. Blocking the blood supply slows tumor growth as does placing a large dose of chemo drugs directly on the tumor.
In transarterial chemoembolization, “ …Only 11 percent of patients whose images were imported into the PACS underwent repeat imaging, compared with 52 percent of patients who had outside images on CD or film that weren’t imported. When no outside images were available, 72 percent of patients underwent repeat imaging,” according to Michael T. Lu, M.D. and colleagues at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) who initiated the study.
Viewing Images on CD Still Standard
Although the number of outside images imported daily to the PACS doubled between 2006 and 2009, the authors recognized that that there are a number of reasons why institutions may not import outside images, including legal exposure issues and financial concerns.
There’s no question the use of PACS has the support of physicians at UCSF, but old technology dies hard. Importing images from CD has been the standard protocol for years. Besides the concerns mentioned, people are slow to change.
“…We expect that just as film persists many years after the proliferation of CDs, use of CDs will continue. We suggest that institutions planning on implementing Internet-based image sharing also make provisions for importing images from CD to PACS,” wrote Dr. Lu, et. al.