DICOM PS3.5 2024b - Data Structures and Encoding

G.3 The RLE Algorithm

The RLE algorithm described in this section is used to compress Byte Segments into RLE Segments. There is a one-to-one correspondence between Byte Segments and RLE Segments. Each RLE segment must be an even number of bytes or padded at its end with zero to make it even.

G.3.1 The RLE Encoder

A stream of identical bytes (Replicate Run) is encoded as a two-byte code:

  • < -count + 1 > <byte value>, where

    • count = the number of bytes in the run, and

    • 2 <= count <= 128

and a non-repetitive octet-stream (Literal Run) is encoded as:

  • < count - 1 > <Literal octet-stream>, where

    • count = number of bytes in the octet-stream, and

    • 1 <= count <= 128.

The value of -128 may not be used to prefix a byte value.


It is common to encode a 2-byte repeat run as a Replicate Run except when preceded and followed by a Literal Run, in which case it's best to merge the three runs into a Literal Run.

Three-byte repeats shall be encoded as Replicate Runs. Each row of the image shall be encoded separately and not cross a row boundary.

DICOM PS3.5 2024b - Data Structures and Encoding