Economic image compression of output documentation of the most frequent examinations in nuclear medicine.
RATIONALE AND OBJECTIVES: In recent years, picture archiving and communication systems and electronic transfer of radiologic images using the digital imaging and communications in medicine file standard has become more widely employed in diagnostic radiology. It seems to be likely that nuclear medicine will be integrated within such systems. On the other hand, many departments possess older nuclear medicine equipment without digital output facilities. There is an increasing tendency to display and archive evaluated images ("save-screens," printouts) on nondedicated, inexpensive systems using file formats capable of data compression. This was the reason for examining the value of the JPEG format in this pilot study. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fifty scanned planar bitmap images of the most frequent scintigraphic examinations (thyroid, bone, myocardium, lungs, and kidneys) were compared with JPEG format at different data compressions by two blinded observers. The visualization of details (eg, pathologic findings) is described for all these images as the visual appearance of the images and the storage capacity required. RESULTS: Relevant loss of clinical information did not occur up to compression factors of 0.75. A major decrease of subjective image quality was seen at compression factors >0.90. Compared with bitmap files, the use of these factors reduced the storage capacity required by 98% at a (JPEG-related) compression factor of 0.50, and 99% at a compression factor of 0.90. Compared with the GIF format, a reduction by 4.0-5.7 could be achieved. CONCLUSIONS: Use of the JPEG format can therefore be recommended to save costs of image transfer or archiving of standard planar scans for nuclear medical evaluation.
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