PACS data archives are, by necessity, proprietary. The DICOM Part 10: Media Storage and File Format for Media Interchange and Part 12: Media Formats and Physical Media for Media Interchange standards apply only to some removable media such as optical, CD, DVD and limited floppy support but do not apply to spinning disc, tape and other forms of fixed or high capacity media. Many vendors claim that their archives are DICOM compliant. The reality is that for all such vendors, the DICOM compliance applies to the database that topologically sits in front of the archive. The data is sent to the database as a DICOM transmission using a DICOM C-Store type transaction. The actual image and possibly additional header data is then archived in whatever proprietary manner the vendor chooses to use. Upon receipt of a properly formatted DICOM Query/Retrieve or C-Move request, the database retrieves the archived data and rebuilds the DICOM image along with the header data. As DICOM does not have standard for long term archival formatting, the actual data stored in the archives must be proprietary in some manner. Today, customers who want to extract data from an archive must either have the vendor voluntarily agree to assist in a data extraction, maintain the archive vendor's database in use and perform DICOM Query/Retrieve or Find/Move operations or contract with a third party to provide data recovery services to extract the customer's data. Each of these operations is time consuming and could involve significant additional costs for the customer. The cost and effort of migrating archival data or the alternative of moving to a new PACS vendor while maintaining the old vendor's archive and database are often sufficient to force a customer to forego preferred new PACS technologies and opportunities in favor of remaining with their current vendor. We have developed a complete specification for solving this dilemma. The core concept involves requiring the PACS vendor to supply and maintain a specific data conversion engine that uses standard DICOM transactions to achieve the conversion in the background.
1. Role of data conversion engine as (or in) a PACS environment 2. Relationship between the data conversion engine and implementation of new technology 3. Understand the DICOM limitations to archive conversion. 4. Understand the critical relationship between access to archival data and the implementation of new technology.