GIST Support Wiki

DICOM disk format for taking scans to another facility

Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) is a data format that allows digitally stored scan results to be transferred between the different brands of proprietary radiology software used at different facilities. In other words, if your scan was done on a brand X scanner, but you want to take the results to a facility where they use brand Y, then a DICOM data disk will allow the radiologist at the second facility to read in and use your scan data in the brand Y system.

If you are going to get copies of your scans for another doctor to read, ASK for the scan to be put in this format.

When copies of scans are put on disk to take to another radiology facility, be sure the radiology lab uses DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) format. This is the standard agreed to by the American College of Radiology and National Electrical Manufacturers Association more than a decade ago.

DICOM is different from the "self-display" disks that radiologists provide for oncologists and patients to view. The self-display disks ae usually NOT compatible across dierent brands of the sophisticated software used by radiologists.

The German Radiological Society has a website, mostly available in English, about the problems of transferring patient DICOM CDs bewteen organisations:

The Media Exchange Certification Project of the DRG

The Koreans appear to have been working on the same problem:

There is a guide to the DICOM standard at: It has links to free viewer software.

There is another list, which appears good, at

The University of South Carolina has a list of free DICOM viewers that can be downloaded.

Most scanners (CT, MRI, PET) can save in its "native" format and can save images as DICOM standard format.

When I get a PET or CT disk I just insert the disk in the drive and a viewer eventually loads for me to see the pictures. I don't know if I'm getting DICOM files or something else. Something to look at this weekend.

If the files end with an extension .dcm then it usually is DICOM compatible.

I got my local scans put on disk and sent it to MDA, but MDA couldn't open the disk because the software used here was so outdated. That situation has been corrected, but it delayed my plans a week. I suspect this problem would only be encountered by folks living in rural areas, dealing with small facilities that don't upgrade their equipment very often.