Purpose: The purpose of this survey was to identify and characterize available programs for viewing DICOM images on personal computers.
Methods: To determine the most commonly used software packages for viewing DICOM images and to seek out less well-known ones, recommendations from colleagues, Internet searches, and searches of databases were carried out. Available software was downloaded and run on the hardware recommended by the developer. Features, such as DICOM information object types, image processing capabilities included, and the ability to export images in other formats were tested and compared.
Results: A number of "freeware" and "shareware" programs for viewing DICOM images are available. They range from comprehensive offerings that are very similar to commercial workstation software to simple-to-use programs to open DICOM image files and display the images on personal computers. Surprisingly, some of the more capable software is also "freeware".
Breakthrough work: While no scientific breakthroughs resulted from this work, at least one of the DICOM image software packages was not well known among the author"s colleagues who were familiar with other systems, and this particular software was among the most flexible in terms of exporting images in other forms.
Conclusion: DICOM viewing software is readily available at no, or low, cost. These programs vary in ease of use, features, and output capability. The results of this survey, while necessarily a "snapshot" in the fast-moving world of software development, should be useful to those who desire to open DICOM images on personal computers or export images from PACS for use in typical office or educational applications.© (2003) COPYRIGHT SPIE--The International Society for Optical Engineering. Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.