DICOM stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine. It is a communication standard for dealing with medical information generated by medical equipment, such as scanners. DICOM has been developed by the Medical Imaging and Technology Alliance (MITA).

Before the communication standard existed, information was stored in various file formats associated with the software of a specific medical device. DICOM has put an end to this. DICOM is widely used and is the standard within medical digital image processing. Both doctors and medical imaging research groups use the DICOM file format for their research.

In the standard, various types of images are supported for different medical applications, both still images and moving images. DICOM supports commonly used compression standards, such as JPEG and JPEG2000, or MPEG-2 for video images.

The copyright on the standard is held by the American National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA). DICOM viewing software can be divided into two groups: (1) "proprietary" viewers that are part of the (medical) recording systems and (2) DICOM viewing software for PCs.

Non-proprietary viewers that are available for free are DicomWorks, Osiris and IrfanView (a widely used all-format viewer). Adobe has developed a plug-in for Photoshop that makes it possible to view or export DICOM images and “header” (= metadata) information to other formats. The IrfanView program is also capable of extracting images and / or animations (sequence of images) from DICOM files.

DICOM files are a preferred format, due to their open specification and adoption as standard within the medical world.

In certain circumstances it may be useful to save a single DICOM file from the entire dataset as .jpeg / tiff (the image) and .txt file (the header). This is due to the fact that few people outside the medical world have experience with DICOM. This way you can easily view one file from the dataset, without having to use an open DICOM viewer.

As datasets containing DICOM files tend to be relatively large, we advise you to contact a DANS data manager before depositing these files. We are happy to advise you on the best way to deliver data and store it in the dataset for user-friendly purposes

DICOM is a preferred format for file type Images (raster). Read more about Images (raster).