Archive Benefits Clinical Service and Teaching
With the newly
up-and-running PACS system, the College of Veterinary Medicine adds
to an already cutting-edge diagnostic imaging service in the Veterinary
The system, Picture
Archival and Communication System, is exactly that. PACS digitally stores
images produced by such modalities as computed radiography, computed
tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), ultrasound, and nuclear
medicine. It also provides a fast and easy way to access digital images
via a typical desktop computer.
Dr. Michael Thomas, clinical associate professor of imaging/radiology
therapy, points out a feature on a patient image at the command
central imaging station in the Large Animal Clinic. Right,
PACS allows easy comparison of patient radiographs taken at different
stages of treatment.
Kodak archival system is the second step in bringing our imaging service
completely into the digital realm. Earlier, technology to acquire radiography
images digitally was brought to Illinois through the efforts of Dr.
Ted Valli, former dean and now professor of pathology, and former head
of veterinary clinical medicine Dr. Fred Troutt, along with Richard
Keen, imaging technologist, and former U of I radiologist Dr. John Losonsky.
allows radiologists to digitally enhance images for improved quality,
thus reducing the need to reshoot images. This in turn reduces radiation
exposure to students, technicians, and patients alike and avoids wasting
of PACS adds to this technology the ability to store and catalog digital
images. Dr. Valli, Dr. Warwick Arden, professor and head of veterinary
clinical medicine, Dr. Stephen Kneller, associate professor and chief
of imaging and radiation therapy, and Craig Flowers, director of computing
services, helped bring PACS to Illinois. Dr. Art Siegel, director of
medical informatics, oversaw implementation of the project and is the
PACS administrator. Dr. Igor Kuriashkin, digital imaging specialist,
serves as PACS co-administrator.
According to Drs.
Valli and Siegel, PACS has already led to benefits in patient care and
has the potential of being a powerful teaching and research tool. The
storage of images in a digital format will greatly reduce the need for
traditional radiographic films. Films may be made if necessary, but
with the ability to access images from any computer, clinicians and
students are no longer required to retrieve films from storage areas.
are interpreting cytological or histological biopsies of bone or soft
tissue lesions also now have access to diagnostic images. The system
has a universally accepted protocol for image identification, so there
can be no mistaking patients images.
Images may be accessed
beyond the clinics as well. According to Drs. Kneller and Siegel, referring
practitioners will eventually be able to access PACS via the Internet
and retrieve their patients images at a password-protected site.
In addition, a patients entire imaging history is stored and can
be accessed as necessary. This allows for easy comparisons to past images,
which is especially useful in monitoring chronic conditions.
One of the most
exciting uses for PACS is as a teaching tool.
What I see
in the future is people using imaging to teach, says Dr. Valli.
Teachers of anatomy, physiology, and pathology will be able to help
make the first two years of the program more relevant and alive by incorporating
current cases from the PACS archives into lectures or laboratories.
The PACS database
can be searched to retrieve images by patient name, number, or study
number. Eventually, by use of other indices and programs, teachers will
be able to easily access images of desired structures or lesions for
incorporation into digital teaching materials.
This is advanced
technology for veterinary and human hospitals alike and raises the profile
of the College.
As Dr. Valli says,
PACS is going to be one of the things that will draw people here.