Evaluation of irreversible JPEG compression for a clinical ultrasound practice

Kenneth R. Persons, Nicholas J. Hangiandreou, Nicholas T. Charboneau, J. William Charboneau, E. Meredith James, Bruce R. Douglas, Ann P. Salmon, John M. Knudsen, Bradley J. Erickson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A prior ultrasound study indicated that images with low to moderate levels of JPEG and wavelet compression were acceptable for diagnostic purposes. The purpose of this study is to validate this prior finding using the Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) baseline compression algorithm, at a compression ratio of approximately 10:1, on a sufficiently large number of grayscale and color ultrasound images to attain a statistically significant result. The practical goal of this study is to determine if it is feasible for radiologists to use irreversibly compressed images as an integral part of the day to day ultrasound practice (ie, perform primary diagnosis with, and store irreversibly compressed images in the ultrasound PACS archive). In this study, 5 Radiologists were asked to review 300 grayscale and color static ultrasound images selected from 4 major anatomic groups. Each image was compressed and decompressed using the JPEG baseline compression algorithm at a fixed quality factor resulting in an average compression ratio of approximately 9:1. The images were presented in pairs (original and compressed) in a blinded fashion on a PACS workstation in the ultrasound reading areas, and radiologists were asked to pick which image they preferred in terms of diagnostic utility and their degree of certainty (on a scale from 1 to 4). Of the 1,499 total readings, 50.17% (95% confidence intervals at 47.6%, and 52.7%) indicated a preference for the original image in the pair, and 49.83% (95% confidence intervals at 47.3%, and 52.0%) indicated a preference for the compressed image. These findings led the authors to conclude that static color and gray-scale ultrasound images compressed with JPEG at approximately 9:1 are statistically indistinguishable from the originals for primary diagnostic purposes. Based on the authors laboratory experience with compression and the results of this and other prior studies JPEG compression is now being applied to all ultrasound images in the authors radiology practice before reading. No image quality-related issues have been encountered after 12 months of operation (approximately 48,000 examinations).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-21
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Digital Imaging
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2002


  • Archive
  • Compression
  • Joint Photographic Experts Group
  • Medical images
  • PACS
  • Teleradiology
  • Ultrasound

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Computer Science Applications


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