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The future of Imaging is here (well almost), and it is digital. Queen's Imaging Services is making a transition away from radiographic film to storing all images digitally to a Picture Archiving Communications System. That's just a fancy phrase for giving physicians and other health care professionals access to images via high resolution computer stations. Access to images will be a hundred times faster, and will provide twice the patient information. At Queen's, MRI and CT became digital two years ago. Ultrasound was included a year ago. The next phase will add Diagnostic Radiology (x-ray). All Imaging areas, including Nuclear Medicine, will eventually be digital.

Digital imaging allows instant access. That means that Neuroscience can look at images even as a patient is being scanned. The ER and OR will be able to call up images instantly. This unprecedented speed and efficiency may even enhance outcomes simply because patients can be treated sooner.

Patient images will be easily found at one of 30 Imaging workstations, which will be installed at Queen's in August. Reports which have been dictated can be clicked on and viewed. Clicking on a patient name brings up the scans in seconds. Images can be scrolled through quickly or one by one; or several can be viewed at once.

Since the discovery of x-rays in 1895, medical imaging has become a key factor in the health care of patients. Radiographic film has been the primary tool for capturing and interpreting disease processes. However, significant disadvantages to film are that it is expensive, bulky, difficult to store and can get lost. Technological advances have also hastened the obsolescence of film, as some CT images sets can include up to 300 images per scan.

Imaging technology over the past several decades has increasingly become digital. Digital imaging was designed for radiology to manage the exponential increase in the number of images created by advanced technologies. Now, the benefits of that technology are becoming available to all health care professionals.

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