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Tag Morphing Provides Solutions to Disparate Systems

Much like spoken languages, DICOM is evolving constantly and different manufacturers speak DICOM with different accents. Dicom Systems’ mission is to provide manufacturers with the flexibility to create new solutions while making it possible for other manufacturers to utilize the output of their new devices.

Today, healthcare providers use a vast inventory of devices, old and new, that have varying degrees of conformance to the DICOM “standard.” New IT solutions are challenged to speak with devices that may have been deployed as long as 15 years ago when imaging devices were created to speak the flavor of DICOM that was prevalent at that time.

For today’s advanced imaging IT solutions to interpret the DICOM output of older DICOM devices or non-DICOM devices, it is vital to be able to transform tags (tag morphing) or create them if they don’t exist in the devices’ output.

Conversely, older devices may include some proprietary or retired DICOM tags that cannot be resolved by newer IT solutions, making it necessary to replace them or transform them in a way that becomes usable by the consuming system.

Tag Morphing Can Solve Multiple Use Cases

There are as many different manifestations of tag morphing situations, as there are DICOM tags in existence, and perhaps more, depending on the context. Here are a few examples:


  • The PACS receiving the images may not be capable of resolving special characters in one of the tags, requiring the special character to be removed before the images can be ingested by the PACS.
  • An older imaging device may be outputting a date format that cannot be resolved by the PACS or other applications, requiring the date to be transformed to an acceptable format.
  • A cardiology PACS may not be able to correctly display ultrasound image frames in the correct order because the device output shows values in the DICOM tags that cannot be interpreted by the PACS.


Within the Dicom Systems Unifier framework, tag morphing can be achieved in many different ways. All transformations occur in memory, either on the way into or out of the Unifier appliance. This approach to tag morphing substantially improves speed and performance for our customers, as the process does not require changes to first be committed to a database before they occur.

Conventional tag morphing can usually be implemented as a regular expression nested within a routing rule. More complex DICOM tag substitutions, removals, or transformations can also be automated on a massive scale by designing the desired transformations into an LUA script to augment the level of efficiency and automation of the routing and transformation rules.