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A unifying and computationally accessible information structure of the DICOM standard for medical imaging is presented.

The Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) Standard is a key foundational technology for radiology. However, its complexity creates challenges for information system developers because the current DICOM specification requires human interpretation and is subject to nonstandard implementation. To address this problem, a formally sound and computationally accessible information model of the DICOM Standard was created. The DICOM Standard was modeled as an ontology, a machine-accessible and human-interpretable representation that may be viewed and manipulated by information-modeling tools. The DICOM Ontology includes a real-world model and a DICOM entity model. The real-world model describes patients, studies, images, and other features of medical imaging. The DICOM entity model describes connections between real-world entities and the classes that model the corresponding DICOM information entities. The DICOM Ontology was created to support the Cancer Biomedical Informatics Grid (caBIG) initiative, and it may be extended to encompass the entire DICOM Standard and serve as a foundation of medical imaging systems for research and patient care.

©RSNA, 2010


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Article History

Received: Apr 7 2010
Revision requested: July 2 2010
Revision received: Aug 5 2010
Accepted: Aug 25 2010
Published online: Jan 19 2011
Published in print: Jan 2011