An integrated approach to a teaching file linked to PACS.J Digit Imaging. 2007 Dec; 20(4):402-10.JD
To meet the educational needs of a medical imaging department with a strong teaching commitment, a teaching file that uses digital data supplied by the institutional picture archiving and communications system (PACS) was required. This teaching file had to be easily used by the end users, have a simple submission process, be able to support multiple users, be searchable on all data fields, and implementing the teaching file must not incur any additional software or hardware costs. The teaching file developed to address this problem takes advantage of the database structure and capabilities of several components included in the commercial PACS installed at the hospital. MS Access is used to seamlessly integrate with the digital imaging and communication in medicine (DICOM) database of a normal work station that is part of the PACS. This integration allows relevant patient and study demographics to be copied from images of interest and then to be stored in a separate database as the back-end of the digital teaching file. When images for a particular teaching file case need to be reviewed, they are automatically retrieved and displayed from the main PACS database using an open application programming interface (API) connection defined on the PACS web server. Utilizing this open API connection means the teaching file contains only the relevant demographic information of each teaching file case; no image data is stored locally. The open API connection allows access to imaging data usually not encountered in a teaching file, allowing more comprehensive imaging case files to be developed by the radiologist. Other advantages of this teaching file design are that it does not duplicate image data, it is small allowing simple ongoing backup, and it can be opened with multiple users accessing the database without compromising data access or integrity.