How to Choose a Web-Based DICOM Viewer

Publish Date: 9 June 2022

A Brief Overview of Medical Image Viewers

Medical images are generally stored in a DICOM file format. This file format contains important information about the image, such as the type of image, the patient's name, and other relevant data. We can categorize the medical image viewers into two groups: Desktop and Web. The Desktop viewers include programs that are installed on the computer. On the other hand, Web viewers are accessed through a web browser and allow remote viewing of data without the need to download an application.

Important Considerations When Selecting a DICOM Viewer

There are a few essential considerations to keep in mind when selecting a web-based DICOM viewer. First, the viewer should be able to handle the various types of DICOM images (CT, MRI, etc.). In addition, it is helpful if the viewer offers a variety of features and options for viewing, manipulating images, and annotations, as this can be very useful for medical professionals. Finally, it is crucial to ensure that the viewer is compatible with medical professionals’ existing workflows.

Existing Web-Based DICOM Viewers Available

The Open Health Imaging Foundation's (OHIF) viewer platform (hereafter OHIF Viewer) is a zero-footprint open-source medical imaging platform which provides the ability to view and interact with medical images in a web browser and create workflows and export reports. Other notable open-source medical imaging platforms include DICOM Web Viewer (DWV) and Med3Web Viewer.

All three viewers are written in JavaScript and provide an interface for visualization and interaction with medical images. As per community engagements and developer contributions, OHIF has more than 1,900 stars on GitHub and more than 200 contributors, DWV has 1,300 stars and 27 contributors, and Med3Web Viewer has 214 stars and 12 contributors. 

The MedDream viewer is a closed-source viewer that provides a standard interface for viewing and interacting with medical images in a web browser; however, its source code is not open, and the license is not free.

OHIF vs Other Mainstream Web-Based DICOM Viewers

A major challenge for image viewers is the compatibility with existing workflows. OHIF can communicate with custom servers and PACS systems and is compatible with the DICOMweb standards for communicating with DICOM data; however, the DWV and Med3Web Viewers are not compatible with DICOMweb. Another area that OHIF excels in is viewing and loading various types of DICOM data, such as DICOM-RT, DICOM SR, and DICOM-SEG. OHIF also provides standard authentication and authorization workflow for the viewer, which is unavailable in the DWV and Med3Web Viewer. OHIF has been professionally designed and developed to be an easy-to-use, extensible, and robust viewer with a User Interface that is intuitive for radiologists and medical professionals.

The Importance of Using Open Source Software

There are many benefits to open source software, including the fact that it is usually free to use and distribute and that it often comes with a large community of users and developers who can offer support and help improve the software. Open-source software enables greater customization and extensibility, which can be very useful for complex medical imaging applications that often require highly specific and customized workflows. 

OHIF is Our Go-To DICOM Viewer

A Web-based DICOM viewer can be an invaluable tool for radiologists and other medical professionals if it is feature-rich, professionally designed, and compatible with various data types and existing workflows. OHIF is an open-source DICOM viewer that is designed to meet these requirements. That’s why it’s our go-to when building custom viewers and workflows for our clients at Radical Imaging. Get in touch with us if you’ve been dreaming up a perfect medical imaging viewer for your own unique use case. We’d love to hear about it and help you build it!

References: 

OHIF

DWV

Med3Web

MedDream

Radical Imaging

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