Informatics in radiology: development of a research PACS for analysis of functional imaging data in clinical research and clinical trials.Radiographics. 2012 Nov-Dec; 32(7):2135-50.R
Picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) provide limited flexibility for the development of novel research methods. By contrast, the research model of data access is more flexible but has vulnerabilities in numerous areas. No single monolithic application can fulfill the diverse and rapidly changing needs of the clinical imaging research community. Instead, the focus should be on the interoperability of preexisting systems. To a large extent, this can be achieved by means of a unified interface for storing and retrieving data. The concept of a research PACS combines the advantages of the clinical and research models of data access while eliminating the disadvantages. A research PACS streamlines the data management process. Instead of a single software program, it consists of a confederation of independent applications brought together by the ability to store and retrieve data in a common database. A prototype research PACS has been developed that is based on the Extensible Neuroimaging Archive Toolkit (XNAT) in association with two new in-house tools: a data selection tool and a data archiving tool. By taking as an example the comparison of regions of interest in multifunctional liver data, it was demonstrated that this framework allows a number of in-house and open-source applications originally designed to work on a stand-alone basis to be integrated into a unified workflow, with minimal redevelopment effort.