Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS)


Medical Images are stored in a picture archiving and communication system (PACS) which are computers or networks dedicated to the storage, retrieval, distribution and presentation of images. PACS main purpose is to replace hard film copies with digital images that can be used and seen by several different medical professionals and different medical automation systems simultaneously.The images in PACS are in an independent format and the most common format is digital imaging and communications in medicine (DICOM). PACS can handle images from various medical imaging instruments like ultrasound, magnetic resonance, endoscopy, mammograms, and x-rays.

A typical PACS network is comprised of a central server that stores a database containing images connected to one or more clients through a local area network. Web based PACS are also an option. A PACS system should provide a single point of access for images and the data associated with it. PACS are now starting to include web-based interfaces so clients can connect remotely over a virtual private network (VPN) or secure Web site (HTTPS). This is key with privacy being such a key factor in health care. With remote access its more convenient for several different practitioners to view the same information simultaneously.


  • Picture archiving and communication systems replaces hard-copy based means of managing medical images like film archives.
  • It provides the capability of off-site viewing and reporting.
  • PACS enables practitioners at various locations to access the same information simultaneously.
  • In association with DICOM, PACS reads the metadata from all the images into a central database.
  • PACS allows the user to retrieve all images with a common feature regardless of originating instrument.
  • Provides a secure network for distribution and exchange of patient information.
  • Archives images for storage, retrieval, and related documentation and reports.

Web Resources:

Related Terminology:

  • Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM)
  • X-ray
  • Telehealth
  • Telemedicine
  • Computed Axial Tomography
  • Teleradiology


external image pacs_diagram.jpg
external image DT_7236_PACS.jpg


Picture Archiving and Communication System, Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picture_archiving_and_communication_system
Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) - http://www.connectingforhealth.nhs.uk/systemsandservices/pacs
PubMed - Costs and Benefits of PACS - http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=116218
"picture archiving and communication system (PACS)." SearchHealth IT. Tech Target, March 2010. Web. 20 Nov 2011. <http://searchhealthit.techtarget.com/definition/picture-archiving-and-communication-system-PACS>.