Using DICOM file format for dermatoscopy

DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) files are a standard for storing and transmitting medical imaging information. They are more commonly used in various radiology modalities, such as MRI or CT scans, as they can contain multiple frames of an image in a single file, thus allowing to store a 3D image formed by slices.

In the iToBoS project we aim to use this format for dermoscopy images, taking advantage of several functionalities that this format provides us. The most important aspect is the possibility to store anonymized medical information about the patient in the file header, in a standardized format, containing all relevant information, from pixel sizing to the patient’s body part during the scan. The multi-frame capability of DICOM also allows us to encapsulate the image and its relative labels in the same file. In this way we can store nevus detection together with the original skin image.

Another advantage of using DICOM files in dermoscopy is its ability to store images in a lossless format, which helps to maintain the integrity and quality of the images over time. This is particularly important for skin lesion images, as changes in lesion appearance over time can be critical for diagnosis and treatment.

In addition, DICOM files can be easily shared between healthcare providers and between different systems, allowing for better collaboration and improved patient care. The standardization of the file format and the ability to store all relevant patient information in a single file eliminates the need for manual data entry and reduces the risk of errors.

However, since it is not a format extensively used in the dermoscopy field, some well-known DICOM readers will not be compatible with the files, as they are developed for radiology image modalities. This fact further highlights the need of standardization in the dermoscopy field.

In conclusion, the use of DICOM files in dermoscopy provides several benefits, including standardized storage, improved quality control, easy sharing, and advanced image analysis capabilities. These benefits make DICOM files an essential tool for improving the accuracy and standardization of skin lesion diagnosis and for improving patient care.