The use of email for the exchange of medical images, such as those in the DICOM format, has been standardized through a specific Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions (MIME) encoding. This standardization allows for the encapsulation of DICOM attachments in a manner that ensures their recognition and appropriate handling by the receiving application.

The primary challenge lies in ensuring full fidelity exchange of image data, including the header information. This necessitates a system where the receiving application identifies the DICOM attachment in the same way it would recognize a Microsoft Word attachment or any other file type, thus launching the relevant application. This recognition is facilitated by the MIME type, which precisely specifies the data type of the email attachment.

For complete and accurate image exchange, a unique MIME type is required specifically for DICOM images. This led to DICOM registering the .dcm extension as the DICOM MIME type with the Internet authority.

Furthermore, there is a defined specification detailing how the information is structured within the email message. While DICOM primarily serves as a communication protocol and not a file specification, there exists a file format specified for exchange media – storing DICOM format images on physical media like a CD, for example. By viewing the internet as a virtual disk, this specification can be easily extended to facilitate file exchange online.

It’s crucial to note that conventional email clients, like Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird, may not inherently support viewing DICOM images attached to an email. A dedicated DICOM application will still be required for viewing and interpreting these images. The advantage, however, lies in the well-defined interface, which can streamline this process.




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