Why and how to choose open source medical imaging software?

25/05/2016 | Frédéric Lambrechts | comments

Why and how to choose open source medical imaging software?

Proprietary software

Proprietary software or closed source software legally remains the property of the organisation, group, or individual who created it. As user, you have to buy a licence to utilize the product. The major drawback of proprietary software is that it creates a vendor lock-in, as you are dependent on the vendor for future versions and upgrades. It undermines the user’s freedom.

Up until recently, mainly closed source solutions were available in clinical workflows. But open source technology becomes increasingly popular thanks to its benefits. Let’s take a closer look.

Open Source = Innovation

In contrast to proprietary software, open source software permits a community to propose developments and improve the product, which empowers innovation. As the source code is freely available to the wider world, practically anyone can create and build without permission or restriction and work together for the public good. These collaborative efforts have already resulted in top technology initiatives that help improve the world. Proprietary software locks the user, as the source code is not released and consequently users cannot copy, modify or share the product. Users also have to rely on the vendor to support and update the product…

By relying on open source software, one stays free and can freely explore the options that innovation has to offer to us today!


Hospitals use many different specialized vendors to manage their medical data. These vendors often use proprietary systems which limit interoperability and therefore prevent the exchange of data between physicians, specialists, departments and hospitals. Regain control of medical data by opting for interoperable and vendor neutral software.


Integrating different modalities, PACS, local health networks, electronic health records, health applications and highly tailored systems and devices used by physicians and specialists is challenging! However, it becomes child’s play by choosing software that will integrate seamlessly into your existing workflow. No more hiring expensive experts!


Medical imaging is driven by the DICOM standard, that exists already 30 years and is used everywhere. Therefore it is indispensable to use medical imaging software that is compliant with the DICOM standard.

Custom development

The advantage of using an open source software is that users can tailor it to their requirements, while proprietary software is a set configuration of features that cannot be changed. Even when the initial tool does not address a specific need, the community will guide you and help you to develop a new tool.


The possibility for support during implementation of software is essential. Make sure you run smoothly with expert support and a comprehensive management platform!

Open source medical imaging solutions that exist

PACS Client

  • DCM4CHE: Platform independent Java DICOM toolkit and utilities
  • DCMTK: Comprehensive collection of DICOM libraries and applications
  • Orthanc: Orthanc is a lightweight self-contained DICOM store, requiring no dependencies or external database. It provides the basic features of a PACS system without extensive configuration. In addition to standard DICOM network functionality, Orthanc provides a REST API to its store, find and move SCP and SCU operations. This provides a language-independent means of scripting operations and employs standard Web technologies such as HTTP transport, JSON format data files and PNG images. A web-based GUI interface is also provided for most functions.

DICOM Viewing

  • Linux/Mac/Windows: Mango: Mango is an imaging application, extensible through Java plugins, allowing file formats and filters to be added. It may be run through a GUI or from the command line and features 3D rendering, image registration, and ROI capabilities.
  • Linux/Windows: Conquest: Conquest is a full featured DICOM server based on the public domain UCDMC DICOM code. Some possible applications are: DICOM training and testing; demonstration image archives; image format conversion from a scanner with DICOM network access; DICOM image slide making; DICOM image selection and (limited) editing; automatic image forwarding and (de)compression.
  • Windows: RadiAnt: RadiAnt is a fast, lightweight and efficient DICOM viewer with a simple and intuitive interface with multilingual support, and has a 64-bit version for loading large numbers of images. Features all the controls needed to quickly view DICOM images, and includes Windows 8 gesture controls.
  • Mac: Osirix / Horos: OsiriX is a DICOM viewer application, compatible with DICOM files and PACS networks. OsiriX is able to receive DICOM images from your PACS network. OsiriX has been specifically designed for image fusion, cardiac CT, multi-series MRI exams and 3D reconstructions. It supports a 5D viewer for PET-CT series and Cardiac-CT exams.
  • Mac: 3D slicer: The 3D Slicer is a freely available, open-source software for visualization, registration, segmentation, and quantification of medical data. Specialized for research into diagnostic visualization, surgical planning, guiding biopsies and craniotomies.

About Osimis

Osimis makes image management and sharing in healthcare simple, powerful and cost efficient through the use of open source software. Osimis’ software products meet all the above essential requirements, and much more…!

Here’s an article on how to set up an Orthanc instance all by yourself on a PC or on a Mac. For Windows users, this article explains how to interface Orthanc with Radiant. Mac users can interface with Horos.


Category : Article
Tags : open source, Orthanc, DICOM

Osimis team frederic

Frédéric Lambrechts

A man for whom 24 hours in the day would just be enough, if he could go without sleep. He has a seemingly endless stream of ideas and prides himself on always being on top of everything going on in his company. Frederic used to work as a boring banking consultant until divine inspiration sentenced him to a life of penal servitude to the medical imaging business. But that was just after he learnt the dirty tricks of full stack coding during an excellent 2-month bootcamp.