DICOM PS3.2 2022d - Conformance

A.3.5 Basics of DICOM Communication

A layman's introduction to DICOM may be included here. The following example may be used as a template:

This section describes terminology used in this Conformance Statement for the non-specialist. The key terms used in the Conformance Statement are highlighted in italics below. This section is not a substitute for training about DICOM, and it makes many simplifications about the meanings of DICOM terms.

Two Application Entities (devices) that want to communicate with each other over a network using DICOM protocol must first agree on several things during an initial network "handshake". One of the two devices must initiate an Association (a connection to the other device), and ask if specific services, information, and encoding can be supported by the other device (Negotiation).

DICOM specifies a number of network services and types of information objects, each of which is called an Abstract Syntax for the Negotiation. DICOM also specifies a variety of methods for encoding data, denoted Transfer Syntaxes. The Negotiation allows the initiating Application Entity to propose combinations of Abstract Syntax and Transfer Syntax to be used on the Association; these combinations are called Presentation Contexts. The receiving Application Entity accepts the Presentation Contexts it supports.

For each Presentation Context, the Association Negotiation also allows the devices to agree on Roles - which one is the Service Class User (SCU - client) and which is the Service Class Provider (SCP - server). Normally the device initiating the connection is the SCU, i.e., the client system calls the server, but not always.

The Association Negotiation finally enables exchange of maximum network packet (PDU) size, security information, and network service options (called Extended Negotiation information).

The Application Entities, having negotiated the Association parameters, may now commence exchanging data. Common data exchanges include queries for worklists and lists of stored images, transfer of image objects and analyses (structured reports), and sending images to film printers. Each exchangeable unit of data is formatted by the sender in accordance with the appropriate Information Object Definition, and sent using the negotiated Transfer Syntax. There is a Default Transfer Syntax that all systems must accept, but it may not be the most efficient for some use cases. Each transfer is explicitly acknowledged by the receiver with a Response Status indicating success, failure, or that query or retrieve operations are still in process.

Two Application Entities may also communicate with each other by exchanging media (such as a CD-R). Since there is no Association Negotiation possible, they both use a Media Application Profile that specifies "pre-negotiated" exchange media format, Abstract Syntax, and Transfer Syntax.

DICOM PS3.2 2022d - Conformance