Digital Imaging And Communications In Medicine

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What Does Digital Imaging And Communications In Medicine Mean?

Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) is a standard for the transmission and storing of medical images. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association holds the copyright to the standard. The standard allows the integration of medical imaging equipment with other devices.


Techopedia Explains Digital Imaging And Communications In Medicine

DICOM allows physicians to store, exchange and transmit medical images from devices such as scanners to printers and computers. Some of the types of imaging that can be transmitted include:

  • Radiography (X-rays)
  • Ultrasonagraphy
  • Computed tomography (CT)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Radiation therapy

It is a standardized file format that includes a patient’s name, type of scan and image dimensions in a header.

The standard dates to 1985, when the first version, ACR/NEMA 300 was released, with additional versions appearing in 1988 and 1993. The standard has been continuously updated to keep up with advances in both technology and the medical field.

With DICOM, a doctor could easily share an MRI scan of a patient’s brain with a specialist for consultation in a different city. DICOM only specifies standards for interoperability with different devices instead of defining a workflow for images.

DICOM is widely used in hospitals as well as some smaller
private practices, including dental offices.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.