PACS, or picture archiving and communication system, is a medical imaging technology used for storing, retrieving, presenting and sharing images produced by various medical hardware modalities, such as X-ray, CT scan, MRI and ultrasound machines. PACS technologies have been widely used in healthcare — generally in hospitals and health systems — for several decades. They have traditionally been associated with radiology departments, the most prolific producers of medical images. PACS technologies have also started to incorporate images produced by other departments, such as cardiology, pathology, oncology and dermatology. In addition to sharing images within hospitals and health systems, a PACS can integrate with ambulatory clinics and, sometimes, with external health systems.
A PACS has four major components: