Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM)


Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) is a standard for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting information in medical imaging. It includes a file format definition and a network communications protocol. The communication protocol is an application protocol that uses TCP/IP to communicate between systems. The files can be exchanged between two entities that are capable of receiving image and patient data in DICOM format. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) holds the copyright to this standard. It was developed by the DICOM Standards Committee, whose members are also partly members of NEMA.

It enables the integration of medical imaging devices – like scanners, servers, workstations, printers, network hardware, and picture archiving and communication systems (PACS) – from multiple manufacturers. The different devices come with Conformance Statements which clearly state which DICOM classes they support. It has been widely adopted by hospitals and is making inroads in smaller applications like dentists’ and doctors’ offices. Also is known as NEMA standard PS3, and as ISO standard 12052:2006 “Health informatics — Digital imaging and communication in medicine including workflow and data management”.

It is used worldwide to store, exchange, and transmit medical images. And it has been central to the development of modern radiological imaging. In addition to that it  incorporates standards for imaging modalities such as radiography, ultrasonography, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and radiation therapy. DICOM includes protocols for image exchange (e.g., via portable media such as DVDs), image compression, 3-D visualization, image presentation, and results reporting.

About Areti Vassou

Digital Strategy Director. Make Ideas Happen @ Digital Media, Research, Social Media Strategy, Web Design, Digital Copywriting & Digital Graphic Design.