PACS mini refresher course. Network and ACR-NEMA protocols.
The backbone of the picture archiving and communication system (PACS) is the electronic network used to move information. Communications networks require electronic rules of operation or protocols so that a set of data being transmitted reaches the intended destination and does not collide with another set of transmitted data. The most efficient protocol is flexible and can respond to the fluctuations in volume of data transmitted via the network. Successful network connection of PACS devices requires standardized interfaces so that equipment from multiple vendors can use the network protocol. The American College of Radiology (ACR) and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) have developed a standard for imaging equipment interfaces: DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine). The DICOM standard allows interoperability among different computers and operating systems. It is flexible and will allow modification and expansions as new imaging techniques evolve. The authors and the ACR-NEMA committee believe that the DICOM standard represents an important choice for radiologists, since it was developed with their interests in mind.