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Digital radiology places very high demands on the networking and digital storage infrastructure of hospitals. In addition to having quite stringent requirements on the quality of the images displayed to the radiologist, much of the technical challenge resides in the necessity of displaying desired images as rapidly as possible. We present an infrastructure for progressive transmission and compression of medical images, which can refine an initial image by increasing the detail information not only in scale-space, but also in coefficient precision. The approach is based on the embedded zerotree wavelet (EZW) algorithm. This algorithm offers a tremendous amount of flexibility in meeting the bandwidth and image quality constraints in a radiological imaging environment. We propose an application of the EZW algorithm in progressive medical image transmission in which it can specify and control both the resolution constraint and rate constraint. The presented method can provide a framework for lossy image compression, with performance far superior to those provided by the standard JPEG algorithm. Also due to the flexibility of the method we will show how any region of interest of an image can be sent progressively.