What is DICOM?
DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) is used in many institutions related to healthcare. It is basically a standard protocol for the management which is used for the transmission of medical images and related data. You can access DICOM files with tools like DICOM HTML5 viewer, desktop software and DICOM apps for smartphones.
DICOM was developed originally by National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR). The standard committee of DICOM governs and it is a trademark of NEMA which is registered.
Uses of DICOM
- In order to communicate medical images and related data, DICOM is used internationally and all-round the globe. One of its main features is to ensure interoperability ability which is used to produce, display, store, share, send, process, retrieve and print medical images. In addition to that it also helps in managing workflows which are related.
- Suppliers and Vendors who manufacture such equipment such as MRI’s and systems of image information such as PACS, make sure that are complying with the standards of DICOM, in accordance with NEMA.
- Such standards are very important and can be applied to medicine field where medical imaging technology is used. Fields such as dentistry, cardiology, radiology and oncology are some examples.
- You might have seen this often that doctors, surgeons and dentists require X-rays or digital images of the body part they are working on, to understand and diagnose the problem which otherwise is hidden underneath the skin and is difficult to diagnose. Medical imaging technology is noninvasive, which means that instruments are not required to be inserted inside the patient’s body, while a scan is performed.
- Medical images are helpful in diagnosis of the patient, may it be clinical analysis or treatment. Since it is a part of the care plan of the patient. These images help in collecting information regarding the progress of the treatment, any abnormalities, mental or psychological changes, so that it can be further used as reference.
- Rapid progress in technology has with time largely eliminated physical storage of these images. Instead nowadays medical images can be stored digitally on software such as cloud etc.
Importance of DICOM in Healthcare
With rapidly advancing technologies related to imaging such as CT scans, and the ever increasing usage of computing in clinical world, ACR and NEMA felt the need to develop and come out with a standard to transfer images and information associated with different vendors.
Today DICOM is being used around the globe, to store, transmit and exchange medical images with software and DICOM HTML5 viewer. It has enabled and allowed the integration of medical devices that have been manufactured by different manufacturers. The patient’s data which is used, is stored and exchanged in a format which is standardized. In the absence of a standardized format, it would be a difficult task to share image data between multiple devices because they would then need multiple formats to interpret.
It has allowed doctors, surgeons and physicians etc. to access the information from anywhere in the world using third party software and web tools like DICOM viewer online. They can diagnose a patient and provide efficient care to the patient while being anywhere in the world. However, cross-document sharing or XDS has now come to existence. An extension XDS-1 has been specifically made to store images in multiple formats.