Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Introduction to DICOM - Chapter 1 - Introduction

Introduction to DICOM

Chapter 1: Introduction

DICOM is a software integration standard that is used in Medical Imaging. All modern medical imaging systems (AKA Imaging Modalities) Equipment like X-Rays, Ultrasounds, CT (Computed Tomography), and MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) support DICOM and use it extensively.

In this tutorial I present a high level review of DICOM. We will look at DICOM from the user point of view trying to avoid the fine details when possible.
Readers familiar with the DICOM standard and its technical vocabulary will surely recognize these terms though I will try to avoid them when there exists a common replacement. The reason for this is because the DICOM standard’s vocabulary is very different from the equivalent terms used in everyday’s computing and I try here to explain DICOM to people with common background in modern software and computing but none or very little background in Medical Imaging and Healthcare IT.

The core of DICOM is a file format and a networking protocol.
  • DICOM File Format – All Medical Images are saved in DICOM format. Medical Imaging Equipment creates DICOM files. Doctors use DICOM Viewers, computer software applications that can display DICOM images, to diagnose the findings in the images. DICOM files contain more than just images. Every DICOM file holds patient information (name, ID, sex and birth date), important acquisition data (e.g., type of equipment used and its settings), and context of the imaging study that is used to link the image to the medical treatment it was part of. 
  • DICOM Network Protocol – All medical imaging applications that are connected to the hospital network use the DICOM protocol to exchange information, mainly DICOM images but also patient and procedure information. The DICOM network protocol is used to search for imaging studies in the archive and restore imaging studies to the workstation in order to display it. There are also more advanced network commands that are used to control and follow the treatment, schedule procedures, report statuses and share the workload between doctors and imaging devices.
Just like every web browser can display JPEG pictures stored on far away servers, medical systems that use DICOM can send and receive DICOM images and search for them in other medical systems.

DICOM is first of all an Interface Definition. It’s success relies on the ability to integrate medical systems manufactured by many different vendors.

The reality today in medical imaging is that when installing new imaging equipment in the hospital and plugging it into the network, it can immediately query the medical imaging archive (PACS), retrieve images that were created by other systems and display them. Additionally, if the new system produces images, they can be reviewed on other vendor’s systems that are already members of the network. All this is done without any changes or modifications to any of the involved system software.

Some of you would rightfully say that this is exactly what you would expect from any new laptop or printer you bring home. However, for the medical community, this was almost impossible before DICOM. Integrating medical equipment of different vendors used to be a big issue. Even today with all the advancement that IT made, very large budgets are spent over interfaces and integration in every large project, not only in medicine.

The ability of modern imaging equipment to seamlessly collaborate and integrate together in a multi-vendor environment is the most notable achievement of DICOM that led to a great advancement in medical imaging.

41 comments:

  1. Excellent piece of cake for the beginners..

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  2. HI, I really enjoyed your presentation, I would have a contact... Thanks

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  3. Thanks for explaining DICOM in familiar computer terms. :)

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  4. Thank you it is useful.

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  5. Thanks for your wonderful post!

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  6. Thanks for your excellent post that uses a lay-person's terms, like myself.

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  7. Thank you, its very clear for anyone.

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  8. Thanks,Nice one

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  9. Thank you very much for sharing this information with the world. I really enjoy reading the simple way of explanation.
    Thank you again sir :)

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  10. Thanks!! This is really good story telling ....

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  11. I am preparing for a interview that is coming up and this article is a savior, thank you!

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  12. This was a great article (and series of articles), but I would like to hear more about DICOM vs DICOM SR--exactly what is the difference?

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  13. Awesome explanation ,thanks a lot sir.
    Cheers....

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  14. Good info! appreciate the post.....

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  15. Hi!

    Hi Roni!
    I've read that currently DICOM specification allows the insertion of mp4 files (movies) in a PACS (as it can be verified in ftp://medical.nema.org/medical/dicom/final/sup149_ft.pdf). Is the RZDCX toolkit able to do that? If not, Is it scheduled this development or can we do it through any workaround? Thanks in advance

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    Replies
    1. Hi Victor,
      Yes, it is scheduled for development.
      I hope we will have this soon.
      Regards
      Roni

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    2. Thanks for your response. We're looking for some component to do this job, and we'd like to count with yours in our options. We're not in hurry, but do you know any approximate deadline when it's expected to be released this development? (at least any beta version for testing purposes)...

      Best regards

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    3. Hi Victor,
      Please email info@roniza.com for details.
      Thanks
      Roni

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  16. I have been workling in the IT field for a long time but I have just joined a hospital 3 months ago. this is a nice explanation in simple terms.

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  17. Great post! Thank you ☺

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  18. Gr8 post. Thanks for sharing :)

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  19. The best explanation of DICOM! Thank you! <3

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  20. Hi Roni !

    First of all thank you for such a good explanation.
    I am currently working on a project related to healthcare informatics. I wish to create a tool which extracts the metadata of a DICOM file and puts it to a database, such as MySQL. Could you please help me know how can i extract the metadata? I am new to all this.

    Thanks !

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  21. Well driven...Wonderful Sharing.
    It really helped.

    Thanks,
    Bin

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  22. Roni!
    Big plus for your karma for your efforts. I am BA on a medical-related project in IT, deal with DICOM and modalities and this blog is the best knowledge transfer I have found so far. Willing to read next chapters (I have started from MWL).
    Wish you success and harmony )

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  23. Roni!
    Big plus for your karma for your efforts. I am BA on a medical-related project in IT, deal with DICOM and modalities and this blog is the best knowledge transfer I have found so far. Willing to read next chapters (I have started from MWL).
    Wish you success and harmony )

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  24. Roni!
    Big plus for your karma for your efforts. I am BA on a medical-related project in IT, deal with DICOM and modalities and this blog is the best knowledge transfer I have found so far. Willing to read next chapters (I have started from MWL).
    Wish you success and harmony )

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  25. awesome information

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  26. Thank you so much. I appreciate the info and please keep posting! I am getting ready to take my CIIP exam and this has helped me tremendously.

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  27. thank you for this simple yet great explanation, i have just one doubt (and the reason that got me here) what do i have to do so the xray machine can send or share the images with a pc in a local network? (so i dont need a usb flash disk or a cd)

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  28. If your x-ray machine has DICOM network capabilities then all you need to do is to connect it to the local network and configure the destination to send the files to.
    You can use our DICOM server - DSRSVC as the destination.
    Simply download it (http://downloads.roniza.com/downloads/dsrsvc/RZDCX_DSRSVC_-_Win32_-_Release-DLL_218_artifacts.zip), unzip the package, and run DicomServer -r from command line. It will receive the images on port 104.
    Good luck.

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