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Helpful definitions - DICOM and PACS

The DICOM standard

The DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine) standard is a standard protocol for communication between devices that generate, transmit and open medical images. This basically means that machines and equipment from different manufacturers can talk to one another using a common language.

DICOM file/image

A DICOM file is a universal type of file format used in all modern digital imaging equipment. You can think about a DICOM image a bit like a JPEG but with a large amount of additional embedded information (such as the patient name, identification number, date of imaging etc.) It is important to only use DICOM files for high quality teleradiology interpretation.

DICOM viewer

A DICOM viewer is a piece of software that can open and manipulate DICOM files.

DICOM workstation

A DICOM workstation is basically just a computer where DICOM files are viewed on a DICOM viewer. Workstations can be for quality control or for diagnosis.


A PACS (picture archiving and communication system) provides storage, rapid retrieval and access to digital images. It consists of the imaging modalities, a data network, viewing workstations and storage archives. All the components of a PACS work together to create an easy-access library where your imaging studies are stored.

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