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TELERADIOLOGY

Teleradiology is the means of electronically transmitting radiological images (CT scans, MRIs and X-rays) from a remote site where the image is captured to a central site for the purpose of interpretation or consultation.1 Teleradiology requires rapid interpretation and report turnaround of the images sent for consultations.2


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In the United States, the American College of Radiology (ACR) is the principal organisation that sets the standard for teleradiology, which serves as a model for all healthcare professionals involved with teleradiology. The ACR also defined the goals of teleradiology as:3

  • Providing consultative and interpretative radiological services in areas of demonstrative need.
  • Making services of radiologist available in medical facilities without on site radiological support, providing timely availability of radiological images and radiological image interpretation in emergency and non-emergency clinical areas.
  • Facilitating radiological interpretation in on-call situations.
  • Providing subspecialty radiological support as needed.
  • Enhancing educational opportunities for practising radiologist.
  • Promoting efficiency and quality improvement.
  • Sending interpreted images to referring providers.

Radiological images can be captured digitally using image devices, and then transferred onto a computer and transmitted to another site for interpretations (Filmless Teleradiology) or the images can be transmitted directly through the use of high speed communication networks, where the images received at the remote site can be magnified, reduced, enhanced and have black-white reversals in order to enhance the interpretation (Digital Imaging).4

All these are done with the aid of teleradiology systems. A basic teleradiology system consists of:

  • An Image Sending Station: This could consist of an image digitizer (TV didgitizer, CCD scanner digitizers and laser digitizers) and a network interface device for connecting onto a network to transmit the images.

  • Transmission Network: The most popular type of networks in use is that provided by phone companies or Internet Service Providers (ISPs), accessed through telephone lines. However Local Area Networks (LANs) and Wide Area Networks (WANs) are also made use of by teleradiology systems.

  • A Receiving/Image Review Station: This could consist of a personal computer with software for manipulating the images and a network interface for connecting onto the network. A printer for printing out the images is an optional addition.

 

Teleradiology and PACS

PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) allows for digital radiological image storage, retrieval and transmission within large healthcare organisations such as a hospital.5 Most teleradiology systems require PACS at both the ends of the image transmission, but it is possible to build a system that does not require one.

 

References

  1. Department of Radiology, University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics. [WWW] An introduction to teleradiology. http://www.radiology.uiowa.edu/MoreRAD/Teleradiology/Tele.html (25TH September 2003).

  2. National Research Council; et al. Networking Health: Prescriptions for the Internet. National Academic Press.

  3. The American College of Radiology. [WWW] ACR standard for teleradiology. http://www.emed.com/resources/telerad.pdf (25TH September 2003).

  4. Jambusaria, Anokhi. [WWW] 14TH January 1999. Teleradiology. http://members.tripod.com/~Telemedicine/teleradiology.htm (25TH September 2003).

  5. Zhang, J.; Sun, J.; Stahl, J. N. PACS and Web-based image distribution and display. Comput Med Imaging Graph. 2003;27(2-3):197-206.

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International Medical Informatics Association
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