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Dr Dale Miles - learndigital.net
Dr. Dale Miles


DICOM In Dentistry: Interoperability and X-rays

Dale A. Miles DDS, MS, FRCD
Diplomate, ABOMR


DICOM - Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine: What is it? And, why should I care? One good thing happened to dentistry on the long road to digital imaging. We waited long enough that medicine struggled with and mastered the big question of sharing images between different "parties" easily. X-ray images could be shared between vendor and doctor, doctor and hospital, hospital and radiologist and about anyone else who had password privileges. The information about the patient - name, address, and other pertinent material - could also be "communicated" with the image, safely and securely. And it didn't matter that the CT scan was acquired on a GE scanner…it could be read on any workstation if it was "DICOM" compliant. In addition, because the image and accompanying information was "digital"…it could be sent anywhere to anyone, electronically! What an enormous breakthrough. What an enormous accomplishment. And, it only took the medical profession and medical imaging industry 23 years to do it! We benefit from these struggles and innovation now as dentists. Was it worth it?

Well, as I intimated above, it was worth it. We can now share this technology and use the developed standards in dentistry. DICOM is available for us now through most digital x-ray vendors. With new HIPAA rules and the push to electronic submission of x-ray images with insurance claims, there is no better time for we dentists to "GO Digital"!

Explanation of DICOM and Dentistry

One of the best resources to explain the standard, it's scope and development, as well as it's potential impact on our profession, is posted on the Dental Diagnostic Science web site at the University of Texas Dental School at San Antonio by Dr. Brent Dove, a graduate of the program in Texas. The web address is http://ddsdx.uthscsa.edu/DICOM.html .


At the American Dental Association's Technology Day this past October in San Francisco, several dentists and clinician-radiologists presented information on "Interoperability" to the attendees. Drs Alan Farman, Brent Dove, Larry Emmott, Barry Freydberg, Claudio Levato and myself related how we dentists could and do share digital image information in private practice, dental schools and between professionals and commercial vendors. The topics were:

  • Interoperability and Cross-vendor connectivity
  • Interoperability and digital image management

DICOM is a reality. It has been embraced by the dental vendors eliminates another perceived stumbling block to digital x-ray system adoption.

What Does DICOM Mean To My Practice and Me?

When you purchase and use an hardware or software from a vendor who is DICOM conformant, you will be able to acquire an image, save it on removable media for the patient to take to another dentist (when they move, and they do), another dental specialist (as in a referral with many images for a case), or receive these DICOM images from another dentist or dental specialist and actually view them on your computer - that's "Interoperability"!

Some manufacturers also have built into their products the ability for you or I to perform "Query" and "Retrieve" functions with DICOM images so that we can upload them to a site (or download them from a site) and have another colleague do the same - all by password and with all images safely encrypted…so that the patient does not have to actually "carry" the images on removable media to another location. In addition, dentists could have almost immediate "second opinion" capability if they use DICOM conformant technology. We live in a truly remarkable digital age.

Who are the Vendors and How Compliant are they to this Standard?

Here is a list of companies/manufacturers that have conformancy statements explaining what DICOM capability/capabilities they have, including some links to their DICOM information if they have it:

Note: if you visit the site and there is no DICOM information, I couldn't find a statement…please let me know if you are able to find it yourself…thanks


Gendex (Dentsply) now Danaher Corporation:
Instrumentarium Imaging (purchased by G.E. Medical):
LightYear Technology:



PracticeWorks/Trophy (Kodak):

Schick Technologies:
SoredexUSA: now Instrumentarium

Suni Imaging:


Happy hunting as you "Go Digital"…."hope this helps"….Dale


© Dr Dale Miles DDS, MS, FRCD
All rights reserved.