ACR-NEMA Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM v3.0) FAQ

Last Updated: March 19,1994
Table of Contents


In 1985, the American College of Radiology (ACR) and National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) published a standard which addressed the issue of vendor-independant data for mats and data transfers for digital medical images [1]. A revised version of the standard was published in 1988 [2]. In both versions, data transfer was defined for point-to-point connections, i.e., a networked environment was not considered. ACR and NEMA have recently completed the third version of the standard which has been renamed DICOM v3.0 [3].

DICOM stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine. The v3.0 refers to the fact that there were two prior versions of the standard.

The Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) contracted the Washington University, Mallinkrodt Institute of Radiology to develop a version of the standard that could be used as a demonstration at the RSNA Annual Meeting in 1992. A second demonstration was held at RSNA '93. The DICOM standard was voted and passed by members of NEMA in late 1993.

Questions and Answers

  1. Are the DICOM v3.0 Standard Documents available in electronic format?

    Yes! FTP access to the ACR-NEMA Standard (DICOM 3.0) Documents is available. All of the final draft versions of the standard can be obtained by anonymous ftp from They are located in the directory /dicom_docs. There are subdirectories that contain the documents in postscript (/dicom_docs/dicom_3.0/postcript), FrameMaker (/dicom_docs/dicom_3.0/frame), and Microsoft Word (/dicom_docs/dicom_3.0/word_hqx).

  2. How many parts are there to the standard?

    There are ten parts to the standard although only the first 8 are available electronically. The last two parts will be made available ASAP.

  3. What are the parts?

  • Is the demonstration software available for ftp?

    YES!! We are pleased to announce that the both the RSNA/Mallinkrodt Institute of Radiology and the European CEN/TC251/WG4 demonstration implementations are available.

  • How do I specify compliance when I purchase a piece of imaging equipment?

    This is a very important question. The survival of the standard will depend on customers requiring equipment to be DICOM compliant. Every manufacturer should have a conformance claim for their products that support DICOM. This statement must be made according to Part 2 of the standard. Most medical imaging companies should either have conformance statements or be well on the way to developing them. But, caveat emptor:they may not give them to you if you don't ask!

    Every user should ideally have a User Conformance Profile which also states the desired performance that the user requires for the particular situation.

    A User Conformance Statement (version 1.5), developed by Dr. Fred Prior of Penn State, for the United States Army, is now available by ftp. We (Penn State) have included this document as part of our most recent purchase contracts.

  • Where can I go to discuss DICOM?

    Discussions about DICOM are usually held in comp.protocols.dicom.


      The electronic copies of all DICOM documents are final drafts. Official printed standards documents are only available from:
      Office of Publications
      2102 L Street, N.W.
      Washington, D.C., 20037, USA
    1. American College of Radiology, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, "ACR-NEMA Digital Imaging and Communications Standard", NEMA Standards Publication No. 300-1985, Washington, DC, 1985.
    2. American College of Radiology, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, "ACR-NEMA Digital Imaging and Communications Standard: Version 2.0", NEMA Standards Publication No. 300-1988, Washington, DC, 1988.
    3. American College of Radiology, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, "Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM): Version 3.0", Draft Standard, ACR-NEMA Committee, Working Group VI, Washington, DC, 1993.