Here are two really capable DICOM viewers, iOviyam and DWV, either of which can probably run on the phone you’re carrying right now, with no installs or software downloads. They’re both up and live on our demo server (skip to the end of each review if you’re impatient to try them).
Both these programs let a standard smartphone query a PACS, and display the images that are retrieved. How on earth does a cell phone handle the complexity of the heavyweight DICOM protocol? It doesn’t. As far as the phone is aware, it’s talking to a web server, which just happens to be serving medical-looking images. These two programs both are deployed as a module within the industry-leading DCM4CHEE PACS server, and in fact installing each involves copying only one or two files, if you have such an installation running (no trivial task, but our wiki notes might help).
So for most people, this is imaging as a web service: something you connect to using whatever device is handy. It provides a convenient mobile phone interface to a PACS, allowing querying by patient details and dates. The DICOM images are retrieved from the PACS by the server module, then converted to standard web-technology images and sent to any HTML5-capable browser (anything from the last few years). Your phone never knows it’s talking to a PACS.
iOviyam2 doesn’t take much longer to launch than it does to say. It is the smartphone/tablet companion to the HTML5-based Oviyam2, and comes from the same productive team at Raster Images. It’s a highly capable 2D viewer, with many of the features you’d look for in a desktop viewer. Security is provided by the hosting PACS, so you need an account to connect to the server and view images. Once logged in, there’s a nicely mobile-optimized search window, leading on to the image viewer. There are technical notes online in the dcm4che.org forum, which go in to more detail about the back-end architecture of the server module (there’s nothing at the client end). iOviyam can use the web-oriented WADO protocol to talk to the PACS server, but can also act as a standard PACS client, and is configured into the server as such. But the user is protected from all this, and just needs a login.
Try it right now! The link below will route to iOviyam2 if you’re on a mobile device, and to the desktop-browser version of Oviyam2 if you’re on a computer. You’ll need a login: it’s guest and the password is guest. Easy.
DWV – DICOM Web Viewer
The browser itself has the now-familiar subset of functions for the limited space available on a mobile device screen: pan, zoom, scroll, windowing and colour mapping. DWV also offers a limited range of image filters, and the display of DICOM header values with real-time searching. That’s a lot of functionality to fit into a small screen.
DWV is installed on our PACS server, and there are two ways of accessing it. The first is to log in to the DCM4CHEE PACS server (username guest, password guest), and click ‘Search’ with all search fields empty (don’t worry about the warning, there are very few images to search). Then, click the ‘eye’ icon to open the web viewer. You can then choose between the installed web viewers (currently, DWV and Weasis). Click on DWV, and you’ll get a new tab with the image volume loading.
Click the images below to launch the DWV image viewer in your browser
DWV’s chief developer is an imaging software professional and has provided all the resources that power users and developers would look for. Source code is available at the project’s GitHub repository, along with extensive documentation of the code and the technical aspects of DICOM integration. There’s a comprehensive wiki and a complete description of the development environment. Yves has generously released this project under the GNU GPL and welcomes collaborators. This would be an excellent opportunity to get involved in a cutting-edge imaging project that already has a solid background and a working product.
Web DICOM viewers are still a new technology, but one that is evolving rapidly. As we move from ‘computers’ to ‘devices’, the advantages of a zero-install workstation are so numerous and compelling that it seems clear that, for many needs, this is the immediate future of imaging.