DICOM in Dentistry
What is DICOM standards and what is its role in dentistry practice?
@gayatri Digital imaging is increasingly used for evaluation of dental caries, oral pathology, and presurgical and preorthodontic treatment assessment. With this conversion from legacy to digital imaging has emerged the need for a software strategy that allows the communication of patient, diagnostic, and other acquisition data along with the imaging information. DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine) is a standard for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting information in medical imaging.
A DICOM file contains a patient's x-ray image or series of images and other patient-related information (eg, patient name, identification number, acquisition modality) as selected from a library of standardized terms. The DICOM library is extensive and continually updated to reflect changing identification standards. DICOM files are fully encrypted to allow safe electronic communication over the internet.
DICOM standards were first developed by the American College of Radiology and National Electrical Manufacturers Association. These standards are regularly revised to improve compatibility with electronic records and improve clinical workflow in the medical environment. By using a standardized format, the images and associated data can be viewed regardless of the proprietary acquisition modality that was used to take the imaging study, allowing for cross-vendor interoperability or connectivity. Dentists are also able to communicate with their medical colleagues via HIPAA-compliant internet connections.
Dentistry has been actively involved in formulation of DICOM standards since 1996, when the American Dental Association joined the DICOM Committee. As a result, DICOM standards began to include definitions for image objects, with special categorization for intraoral projections and color photography. Today, most companies producing imaging devices (termed acquisition modalities) include DICOM image identification. Numerous software systems (termed picture archiving and communication systems, or PACS) have been developed to allow for the storage, retrieval, and viewing of digital DICOM images.
Much work still needs to be done before dentistry is fully integrated with respect to DICOM. For example, DICOM images need to be integrated with the many electronic dental record software products currently available. The DICOM group that represents the dentistry specialty has convened to discuss issues related to the DICOM standards, including the use of imaging in diagnosis, treatment simulation, treatment guidance, and tissue restoration, as well as development of guidelines for standardization of digital photographic structured displays for both intraoral and extraoral projections, the creation of templates for reports, the development of guidelines for presentation states including overlays used in dentistry, and surgical workflow issues within DICOM used in dental implantology.