DICOM standard continues to evolve
CHICAGO, Nov. 28—Simplified workflow and increased image quality are among the changes made to the DICOM standard presented during the session “What’s New in DICOM?” on Tuesday at the 93rd annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA).

“The DICOM standard is continually evolving,” said Harry Solomon, GE Healthcare. “We have developed a service for point of care/imaging modalities to participate in the patient safety regime of a hospital.”

Solomon said that new to the standard this year is an approved change for workflow regarding contrast agents verification. “Contrast agents are a patient safety issue and we have instituted a point of use verification for substances often ‘out of the loop’ of hospital pharmacy systems,” he said.

According to the change, a contrast agent is first queried, and product characteristics are looked up. Once identified, it is given a barcode ID, a name, active ingredient, concentration, et cetera. Then it is queried again to obtain substance administration approval or a warning, which are based on agent, patient, and route of administration. The report contrast is then sent to the HIS Medication Administration Record.

Now available for public comment is a new paradigm for images to transition from single frame to multi-frame objects to support 1,000 plus slice studies, Solomon said. With an image header that supports functional group attributes changing during acquisition and dimensions allow multiple views of data that can be reorganized, image quality can be increased, Solomon said.

How does a referring physician see a key image within 1,000 plus slices? According to Solomon, with a new retrieve SOP class for subsets of frames. With the new SOP class, a physician can ask for a compressed version of an image, as well as the high quality image.

Also available for public comment is a proposed enhancement for ultrasound. Since ultrasounds put different types of data into multiple frames for tissue, velocity, and variance, “an enhanced blending pipeline is required to render images since multiple frames must be blended for proper display,” according to Solomon.

New this year in segmentation image and available for public comment is segmentation using 3D surface mesh (rather than voxel volume). “This is the first use of mesh technology in DICOM and it will be used for future volumetric work, including implant specification and surgical planning,” said Solomon.

According to Solomon, more than 100 minor corrections/changes and 10 major corrections/changes are proposed each year to the DICOM standard.