The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va., has released a fifteen-part update of the Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) standard.
This standard was originally developed beginning in 1983 in response to the introduction of computed tomography (CT) and other digital diagnostic imaging modalities in the 1970s, as well as the increasing use of computers in clinical applications. The committee, formed jointly by NEMA and the American College of Radiology (ACR), had three basic objectives: (1) to promote communication of digital image information, regardless of device manufacturer, (2) to facilitate the development and expansion of picture archiving and communications systems (PACS) that can also interface with other systems of hospital information, and (3) to allow the creation of diagnostic information databases that can be interrogated by a wide variety of devices distributed geographically.
DICOM is used or will soon be used by virtually every medical profession that utilizes images within the healthcare industry. These include cardiology, dentistry, endoscopy, mammography, opthamology, orthopedics, pathology, pediatrics, radiation therapy, radiology, surgery, and even veterinary medicine.
“Several key additional features have been incorporated in the 2001 documents that extend DICOM into new areas of application,” says DICOM Committee co-chairman Dr. David Clunie. “These include the addition of part 16, the Content Mapping Resource, extensions to structured reporting to support mammography CAD and key objects, as well as workflow enhancements in the form of general purpose worklist.
“The DICOM Content Mapping Resource (DCMR),” Clunie explains, “provides a single, unified part of the standard in which to document the codes and templates that are used elsewhere, particularly in conjunction with structured reports.
Indeed the templates in the DCMR provide the means to formalize and constrain the content of structured reports on an application-specific basis.” Structured reports are carefully prescribed ways of conveying reports associated with various medical imaging procedures.
You can purchase the entire DICOM standard set in printed and electronic formats by contacting Global Engineering Documents at (800) 854-7179 (within the U.S.), (303) 397-7956 (international), (303) 397-2740 (fax), or visit www.global.ihs.com.