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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. DICOM 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.
DICOM 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 DICOM Conformance Statements which clearly state which DICOM classes they support. DICOM has been widely adopted by hospitals and is making inroads in smaller applications like dentists’ and doctors’ offices.
DICOM is known as NEMA standard PS3, and as ISO standard 12052:2006 “Health informatics — Digital imaging and communication in medicine (DICOM) including workflow and data management”.
The DICOM Information Object Definitions encode the data produced by a wide variety of imaging device types, including:
DICOM is also implemented by devices associated with images or imaging workflow including: