DICOM PS3.3 2024c - Information Object Definitions

F.2 Basic Directory IOD Overview

The general organization of the Basic Directory IOD is introduced in this Section. A simple example is also provided to illustrate the application of this organization.

F.2.1 Basic Directory IOD Organization

The Basic Directory IOD organization is based on a hierarchy of Directory Entities. At the origin of this inverted tree is a root Directory Entity. Each Directory Entity includes one or more Directory Records, which in turn may each reference a lower level Directory Entity.

Directory Records serve to reference objects stored in the Files of the File-set. The organization of the Directory is depicted by the Basic Directory IOD entity/relationship model presented in Figure F.2-1.

Each Directory Record, irrespective of the Directory Entity it is included in, contains four types of information:

  1. A reference to a lower level Directory Entity or Referenced Directory Entity. This reference may be absent if such a lower level Directory Entity does not exist for an instance of a Directory Record;

  2. A reference to a File of the File-set in which is stored a "Referenced Object" (formally called in DICOM a Referenced SOP Instance). This reference may be absent if no File is referenced. Files may be referenced directly by their File ID;

  3. A set of "selection Keys", specific to a Referenced Object, which will allow its selection among all the records included in a given Directory Entity;

  4. A mechanism to chain the various Directory Records that belong to the same Directory Entity.

This generic content of a Directory Record is further specialized based on its specific type in the context the Basic Directory IOD Information Model specified in Section F.4 (e.g., a Study Record, a Series Record, etc.). A Directory Entity may include Directory Records of different Types. By standardizing a number of specific Directory Records (see Section F.5) in the context of the Basic Directory IOD Information Model, one allows the definition of a variety of directory contents while maintaining a framework for interoperability.

Basic Directory Information Object E-R Model

Figure F.2-1. Basic Directory Information Object E-R Model

To facilitate the management and update of the Directory Information a number of rules are defined:

  1. Any Lower-Level Directory Entity shall be referenced by at most one higher-level Directory Record. Not allowing multiple higher-level Directory Records to reference the same Lower-Level Directory Entity simplifies the management of the deletion (or inactivation) of Directory Records and Lower-Level Directory Entities and associated Directory Records

  2. Any Directory Record shall belong to a single Directory Entity. This rule and the above rule, makes the Basic Directory IOD itself strictly hierarchical

  3. All files referenced by a Directory shall be present in the same File-Set to which the directory belongs

  4. Non-DICOM files that are not referenced by the Directory may be included in the File-set space. The means of access to such Files and the semantics associated with their absence from the Directory is beyond the scope of the DICOM Standard

  5. If a DICOMDIR contains a Directory Information Module, all DICOM Files of the File-set shall be referenced by a Directory Record

  6. Any File of the File-set shall be directly referenced by at most one Directory Record of the Directory.


Referenced Files may contain SOP Instances of SOP Classes that provide the means to reference by UIDs other SOP Instances that may not be stored in files of the same File-set.

DICOM PS3.3 2024c - Information Object Definitions