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Digital Imaging in Medical Field: Introduction and Benefits

Digital imaging is defined as the art of making digital images such as photographs, printed text, manuscripts etc using a digital camera, scanner, image machine etc. Today’s certain areas of medicine have made significant step forward in adopting digital technology. Radiology is at the top of the list which takes serious moves towards the use of digital styles such as CT, MRI, X-ray and ultrasound. In our previous articles, we explain hospital information system-HISTree, Healthcare types,  IoT in healthcare, Cloud computing changing healthcare etc. In this article, we are going to explain Digital Imaging in medicine, its benefits, trends and challenges in detail.

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The revolution in digital imaging has been accompanied by the adoption of PACS (Picture Archiving and communication system) which facilitates storage, retrieval, distribution and convenient access to images from multiple modalities. The main goal of digital imaging and Pac is to become completely filmless due to improved patient care and cost in healthcare.

Digital imaging Basic Introduction:

In this digitised world, digital imaging is associated with a large number of clinical and economical benefits. Before go deeply we recommend to have some basic knowledge of fundamental particles of digital imaging. Let’s have a look at basics of digital imaging.

Fundamental particles of Digital imaging:

Following of particles of digital imaging are:

(i) Pixel:

Pixel is known as the smallest piece of discrete data in a digital image. In medical imaging, we mainly deal with the grey scale images to show patient reports. In digital imaging, pixel may be defined as picture element and might be thought of as:

  • A single physical element of a sensor array.
  • An element in the display on a data projector or monitor.
  • An element in an image matrix inside a computer. For m x n RGB colour image there will be three m x n matrices or m x n x 3 matrices while for m x n grey scale image there will be one m x n matrix.

(ii) Image Size, scale and Resolution:

As compared to paper-based technology and older films, nowadays with the help of digital imaging we can easily shrink and enlarge the  image as per our convenience. The most common usage defines image size as a rectangular pixel dimension of either 2D or 3D image, for example, 512 x 512 dimension might represent the single slice CT image. In medical imaging, we generally define the Field of view, image matrix size and less define image scale.

Benefits of Digital imaging:

Digital technology helps in improving patient care and provides efficient cost and workflow benefits to the hospitals and radiology department. Following of digital imaging benefits are:

  • Allows instant access to the entire patient care team regardless of location without transporting or duplicating teams.
  • Make images centrally available and stored on a centralised hard drive for retrieval on multiple computers.
  • It prevents damage records i.e. images always remain safe on a hard drive in case of damage or error.
  • It improves workflow, productivity and reduces cost throughout imaging process.
  • Improves efficiency means it allows radiologists to review and report patient studies in digital format as compared to analog.
  • Eliminate the cost of chemicals, film and to redeploy personnel who previously handled film processing.
  • Eliminates the need to shuffle through files and films that may be lost or missing.
  • Without leaving your place or desk you can easily view, print and email a document.

Medicine and Digital Imaging:

A joint initiative of RSNA ( Radiology society of North America) and HIMSS (Healthcare information and management systems society integrate the healthcare enterprise to define medical information transactions. To some, IHE is a means to achieve for entire hospital systems what PACS and DICOM did for radiology departments. The most interesting fact about IHE is that the nuclear medicine is wholly digitised before the advent of Pacs & Dicom. Sometimes some barrier occurs, for example, nuclear medicine data and Pet cannot be handled together by many PACS system. To overcome this, various specific IHE profiles developed on nuclear medicine and another on Pet.

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