Implementation of any picture archiving and communication system (PACS) requires a discussion of how to deal with the large quantities of data that must be transmitted and stored. Even before PACS, clever engineers devised encoding schemes that reduced the apparent size of images to reduce the demands placed on transmission and storage devices. Encoding images in order to reduce storage and transmission demands is called "image compression." Compression of medical images is controversial-some argue that it should not be used, because soon storage and networks will be cheap enough that compression is not necessary. This argument has been made from the early days of PACS and continues to be made. I suspect this issue will continue to be controversial until humans no longer view images. Those faced with the need to implement systems in the present point to the benefits that can be achieved. Sometimes the argument for using compression is purely financial: using compression tips the scale from a losing proposition to a winning one. It can allow one to use less expensive networking technologies and requires less (potentially much less) storage. These can be major components of the capital acquisition as well as operating costs.
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