DICOM stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine. DICOM was created as a means for sharing patient data between various devices within a hospital environment. A common format is necessary to facilitate communication between devices produced by different manufacturers.
Initially, medical devices collected patient data and streamed it across a serial interface to another device. For example, think of an ultra-sound device streaming ultra-sound images to a screen for viewing or to a disk for storage. DICOM was the result of an effort by National Electrical Manufacturers Assocaition (NEMA) to standardize the data format used between devices. NEMA put together a group of medical device manufacturers to pool their communication needs resulting in the DICOM format specification.
The specification is rather complex. As such, many software development kits and tools exist that can work with DICOM. All of our software products work with DICOM, such as Checkpoint, which can be used to perform 3D visualization of DICOM data from CT, MRI, and PET scans.