27 October 2010

Not all x-rays are created equal..

Can you spare a JPEG? And no, I don't mean DICOM files exported from your digital imaging software renamed with a .jpg extension. I'm referring to your garden-variety JPEG format image that every dental imaging software is capable of exporting. Why do I ask, you say? Well, as digital imaging becomes more common, so do my calls from clients complaining that they cannot view the x-rays that office "B" just sent them via email.

Now why would that be? Well, it seems there's a crucial training topic missing from the usual syllabus for digital imaging software classes. You see, when a patient visits the specialist (oral surgeon, periodontist, etc.) and the specialist's office calls asking for x-rays (preferably digital), what does your staff do? Export and email. But in what format?

My usual response to the calls mentioned above has been "Please call/reply to office 'B' and ask them to export the images as JPEG, not (insert proprietary format here)." It's true that the majority of dental imaging software understands the DICOM format, however, that is not their default image type. In fact, nearly every product uses its own propriety format for storing images. But they're just images, right? I wish it were that simple, but there is a simple solution (hint: it's my usual response).