RSNA: Non-DICOM formatted CDs on the rise

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CHICAGO—Over the past decade, radiology has transitioned away from the use of hard copy films to digital media on CD, but one issue that still remains is ensuring that all files are in the internationally derived DICOM standard. While the majority of CDs are in DICOM format, there has been an increasing number of non-DICOM formats, according to a study presented at the 97th Scientific Assembly and Annual Meeting of the Radiology Society of North America (RSNA).

Christopher H. Hunt, MD, of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and colleagues wanted to study the trends of secondary interpretations at their facility, particularly looking at the format of submitted cases. The researchers performed a retrospective study of non-Mayo Clinic neuroradiology exams submitted to the Mayo Clinic from November 2006 to December 2010.

Over the study period, there was no change in the overall volume of cases. There was a significant decline in the mean number of hard copy films submitted per month (297 cases in 2007 to 57 cases in 2010), with this decline mirrored by the volume of cases submitted on CD (753 cases in 2007 to 1,036 cases in 2010).

Most cases submitted on CD were in DICOM format, but the number of non-DICOM cases nearly doubled from nine cases in 2007 to 17 cases in 2010.

Hunt said the increase in non-DICOM format is troubling because it makes interpretation and archiving more difficult, with the biggest problem coming in the transfer of patient information. While that information is included in DICOM format, files submitted in JPEG or other basic formats are manually named by technicians, which could lead to problems.

“While you’ve got quality control at the scanner when you are scanning the patient, when a tech is in your file room converting and naming the files in a non-DICOM format you have no control over that,” said Hunt.

The researchers noted that studying trends in outside film submission will allow for better practice management.