Troubleshooting DICOM issues
Troubleshooting DICOM issues can be one of the most difficult problems you can encounter if you do not have the right tools for the job. There was a time when ultrasound systems had a camera mounted to them and the service engineer’s domain was all physically in front of them. Now that DICOM is prevalent, we sometimes need to work with multiple people and technologies when images do not transfer across a network.
When we first have a report of DICOM issues, the obvious step is the physical aspect. Is the cable inserted into the wall and system, was it properly unplugged when the system last went portable or was it ripped out of the socket? Are the pins in the RJ45 connectors on the system and wall intact? Is the cable damaged?
Next we want to check the settings within the system. The vast majority of systems today have the ability to backup electronically so insert a backup disk and load the network settings back into the system. You may need to manually do this if a contemporary backup is unavailable.
Still not working? Now is the time to get out your laptop. Connect the network cable into your computer, go to Start/Programs/Accessories/Command prompt and enter a ping command to the destination device by typing: ping xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx (the x’s represent the IP address of the destination device). If the ping returns OK, you likely have a system problem. If it does not, there may an issue with the facility infrastructure, switches, hubs, routers or the actual PACS device.
It is also a good practice to have a DICOM program on your laptop. There are dozens if not hundreds of free DICOM software programs available on the internet. By having one of these, you can program your laptop to emulate the PACS server and send exams from the ultrasound system to your computer using a crossover cable. This is a great tool to demonstrate that the system is performing as it should.
This is just a small overview of troubleshooting DICOM issues; to comprehensively cover this material would take hours and would fill TechNation cover-to-cover but following these basic steps will either get you to a solution or go a long way in eliminating many possibilities.