In digital radiography (DR), images are captured on an electronic detector screen, and then converted into a digital format, which is displayed on a computer monitor. DR commonly utilizes Flat Panel Detectors (FPD), which provide direct or indirect image capture within approximately 5-10 seconds, making it desirable in high-volume practices. FPDs employ a plate that replaces a conventional radiography cassette or film and eliminates the need for scanning.
Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine (DICOM) is a medical interoperability standard imaging format. Veterinaries use various imaging devices to communicate and share images. DICOM imaging capabilities include send, print, query and retrieve, and compress and search. Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) software enables veterinarians to capture and review images, make enhancements, and store them in a centrally located, easy access database.
Benefits of DR in the veterinary world are similar to those experienced in human medicine.
Integration with existing x-ray table and bucky tray
No imaging plates or cassettes to hassle with
Superior image quality for better diagnostics
Decreased radiation exposure
Easier to produce, share, and store images
Not only is DR faster and more efficient than conventional radiography (CR), but software tools also allow adjustments of brightness, contrast, zoom, and pan on a single exposure. DR also improves imaging latitude, which essentially means that there is more forgiveness of the system with errors in technique. DR systems also decrease the number of retakes due to exposure errors. While new technology is more user-friendly, it does not decrease retakes caused by patient positioning errors.
With regard to overall cost of a new DR system, it’s important to remember: hardware and software upgrades, future upgrades, monitor upgrades, network upgrades, off-site image backup, high-speed internet connection, and additional viewing monitors. While DR has upfront costs, the financial benefits are longer term. DR reduces the per cost study due to the elimination of film and chemicals. Additionally, no rooms are needed to process and physically archive x-rays. Also, since your new system doesn’t require a processor, you can eliminate any costs previously associated with processor maintenance.