Overview

Digital Radiology is a new form of X-rays, instead of printing the scans out on paper they are digitally taken reducing the wait time for doctors and patients. This new technology is called PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System).


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The radiologic technologist using this technology can make an exposure, adjust the contrast, and density using a computer program and immediately transmit the image to a monitor for the radiologist and then archive the image on a disk, never having printed it out on paper. Only a few health care facilities in the US have used this technology.






Digital Radiology also increases efficiency greatly. For example, health facilities that have used digital radiology are able to process much more information and patients. Also, you can email images to colleagues or specialists for consultation (valid email account required).


Digital Radiology offers new ways of interpreting x-ray images. By making the x-ray images digital, this allows radiologists and physicians to enhance the image which will allow them to improve a certain region within the x-ray. This allows for diagnosis to be more accurate. Also, with digital imagery, radiologists can compare x-rays to other x-rays even though the positioning isn't perfect. With film radiology, in order to compare bone structures over time, the picture must be in the same position each time. With digital technology, radiologists can compare a direct image with an indirect image allowing them to see subtle changes in bone tendency. This can lead to greater understanding to two common bone disease; caries and periodontal.



Benefits

Digital Radiology offers benefits for physicians, dentists, and patients. Though the benefits are different for each group, their importance is equally significant. These benefits can be as follows:
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  • More efficiency for image processing
  • More accurate leads to a better diagnosis
  • Less exposure time needed
    • Thus the acquisition of the image is quicker
  • Fewer radiation doses
    • Fewer X-ray photons are needed to form an image on a CCD* array than on dental film
    • The surface exposed to Digital Radiation is about half of what is needed for a single image film
  • Environmental friendly
  • Cost efficient
  • Easy to learn
  • Space is also saved when it comes to archiving



Comments*

1) "The heart of DDR is a charge-coupled device (CCD) array. This CCD is sensitive to X-rays, like a normal video camera to the light. It captures the image in a similar fashion as the film does, but it is instantly stored in the computer memory and displayed on the monitor. No film processing is needed and the image is available immediately."


References

http://www.pamf.org/news/2005/1005digital.html
http://www.priory.com/den/dentrvg1.htm
http://www.hsa.ca/english/hightech/digirad.asp