Web Technology and Its Relevance to PACS and Teleradiology

Wayne T. DeJarnette, PhD


Appl Radiol. 2000;29(8) 

In This Article

Web Technology in PACS and Teleradiology Applications

Although the technologies listed in Table 1 (and others) are frequently thought of as Web technologies or an integral part of the Web, their usefulness in PACS and teleradiology applications must be examined individually, not as a whole. Some of these technologies are highly useful in PACS and teleradiology systems, while others are considerably less so.

Fundamental technologies, like TCP/IP and the Internet, are very useful for PACS and teleradiology deployment. TCP/IP has become the de-facto, low-level standard protocol for implementation of the DICOM standard. The Internet provides a low cost communication infrastructure, which can be useful in teleradiology, remote viewing, and report distribution applications. The Internet does have its drawbacks, however: unreliable communication bandwidth and significant security problems.

Other than these two technologies, the others mentioned in Table 1 have much more limited utility in PACS and teleradiology. XML shows some promise for the future, but is of limited use today, other than in proprietary applications. The DICOM, HL-7, and other standards bodies are studying ways in which XML could be used in a "standard fashion" to address medical informatics problems. Such standardization is years away, however. This standardization is also of questionable utility, as DICOM today addresses many, if not most, of the issues that could be addressed by XML.

Java is really a programming tool. As such, it should be of no interest to a PACS or Teleradiology user or purchaser, other than if the use of this technology results in a more reliable, more maintainable, higher performing, and/or lower cost system. Java usage today, however, does not guarantee any of these.

Web browser/server, hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP), hypertext markup language (HTML), and file transfer protocol (FTP) are technologies that can be uses to address PACS and teleradiology problems. These technologies however, cannot address all problems or any individual problem in an optimal fashion. As an example, FTP is a far less useful protocol for medical imaging application, than DICOM. FTP can be used to transfer medical images from one computer to another, but in a far less elegant and ultimately useful fashion than allowed for in the DICOM standard. HTTP and HTML technologies are only useful in the context of Web browser and Web server applications. The application most often associated with Web browser/server technology is teleradiology.


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