Picture Archiving and Communication Systems (PACS) offer the potential for improved management of digital imaging studies. The PACS archive is one component of a complex system incorporating data acquisition, electronic communications, digital displays, and interfaces to other information systems such as the Radiology Information System (RIS) and Hospital Information System (HIS). One of the driving forces behind PACS development is the requirement to reduce the number of lost or unavailable studies, and if designed and implemented correctly, the archive can achieve this goal. The design or choice of an archive solution should take several factors into consideration, such as the volume of data to be stored, the length of time data will remain available online, the retrieval requirements, security of the data, reliability of the archive, and cost. A person purchasing a PACS will have to make decisions on the archive architecture, database structure, and storage media, and will have to consider setting policies on access and compression. There may be interface requirements with the RIS or HIS that will involve coordination with an information services organization. All these considerations are important to configuring an archive that will meet the needs of an individual installation.
Throughout this chapter, terms are used to describe file sizes, archive sizes, media capacity, speed, and formats. Table 9.1 includes a definition of these terms. A good understanding of these terms is important when specifying size and speed requirements for the archive.
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