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What to Consider When Looking for a DICOM Viewer for Mac?

What to Consider When Looking for a DICOM Viewer for Mac - by PostDICOM

One of the most frustrating things that can happen inside a doctor’s private practice is trying to view a patient’s images from a recent scan in vain. The computer is brand new, there is a high-speed internet line available, and the online DICOM viewer that the doctor recently downloaded should open the images—except it doesn’t!

But not only doctors in their offices, hospitals have to deal with the same issue with radiologists and physicians complaining about not being able to do their job when they run into technical difficulties while attempting to view clinical images. Is it their fault? Is it the viewer? Is it the 15-year-old computer that’s responsible? In any case, when this happens, doctors are unable to proceed rapidly with the diagnosis and treatment of patients. Therefore, it is vital to choose the best DICOM viewer that will perform smoothly day in and day out and will never let you down!

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Which operating system should I use?

Well, here start the real issues because there are enthusiasts who cheer for both Windows and Mac OS but they usually fight over minor things. Most of the “switchers” from MS to Mac and vice versa agree that personal preference is what this is all about. Regardless and when it comes to choosing a DICOM viewer, it’s always safer, more flexible and more preferable to go with a DICOM viewer for Mac which is also compatible with MS Windows and Linux rather than getting a DICOM viewer that will run only on a specific operating system. This will save you from a lot of frustration in the long term.


What do I have to ensure regarding the operating system?

First, you need to determine which DICOM viewer is compatible with your operating system. Not every DICOM viewer works with MS Windows, Mac and Linux at the same time. There is a plethora of DICOM viewers out there but most of them work with either Windows or Mac but not both. So, a healthcare professional needs to decide accordingly.

Second, you will need to make sure that the viewer will autorun once installed. Most of the DICOM viewers out there do have an autorun integrated. However, there are still several choices available that require the installation of specific software first. This procedure makes the system slow and the performance is suboptimal which eventually costs time and money.


Which functions do DICOM viewers generally perform?

DICOM viewers available on the market offer the following functions:

  • Image viewing

  • Image exporting (teaching, presentations)

  • Storage

  • Sharing images with other healthcare professionals

  • Mini-PACS servers

  • Research



Needless to say, the final choice of a DICOM viewer depends on the features that a healthcare professional deems most suitable for their needs. It also depends on the workplace environment. A private practice needs more speed and versatility whereas a hospital group will focus on 3D reconstruction, image editing and manipulation and other advanced tools. A very important feature is a cloud-based PACS system which has come as a breakthrough in the industry. Instead of simply transmitting the images to the workstation, the network of the images is massively broadened and from there, the possibilities are endless. Since any HTML5-compatible device can have access to the cloud, professionals like doctors, nurses, physicians, physiotherapists, and surgeons can share patients’ images all around the globe in an instant! It has become imperative for new DICOM viewers to be integrated with cloud-based PACS.


What exactly is cloud-based PACS? Should I get it?

PACS (Picture Archiving and Communication System) works by using hardware and software components to acquire images from medical imaging devices—such as CT, MRI, ultrasound, or radiography devices, then converts the files into the DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) format and moves them to workstations where they can be accessed and reviewed.

To sum up, PACS is the actual software which enables us to exchange, store and share the images while DICOM is the standard file format that makes this possible. There are two forms of PACS: local PACS and cloud-based PACS. Cloud-based PACS is a market-changer because it

  • Offers more storage

  • Is safer

  • Is cheaper in terms of both upfront and maintenance costs

  • Enhances collaboration across the globe



In order to fully understand the breakthrough that a cloud-based PACS stands for, we need to imagine working with and without it. With a local PACS, the only professionals able to view the images are the ones logged in the same Local Area Network. That limits the access to vital information about the patient’s health. That also makes the system heavier and slower with maintenance problems constantly arising. On the other hand, with the use of a cloud-based PACS and a fast free DICOM viewer, literally anyone with an HTML5-compatible device can access the system from anywhere on Earth! The advantages of such a system are enormous and the effects on improving health outcomes for patients cannot be overlooked.


Should I go for a free or paid version of an online DICOM viewer for Mac?

There are many online versions of DICOM viewers on the web. Some of them are free and some aren’t but most of them have a trial version of 30 or 45 days. After that, a paid subscription is always the case where more premium tools and features are available. However, if someone searches hard enough, they will come up with free Dicom solutions that provide all the “goodies’’ and at the same time stay free regardless of how long you use them. So, pay for the DICOM viewer that you prefer only if it’s absolutely necessary. Please do anything in your power to stay away from scams, hacks and unnecessary software downloads.


Which are some of the best DICOM image viewers for Mac?

  • PostDICOM: One of the best free DICOM viewers for Mac out there. It is also compatible with Windows and Linux and provides advanced tools and features. Image manipulation, 3D reconstruction, MIP, MRP and image fusion are all available in the free version. There is a paid subscription for those interested but the free version comes with 50 GB of free cloud-based storage space.


  • Horos: This is actually a free version of Osirix MD which is probably the best DICOM viewer for Mac. It provides the doctor with many options such as image reconstruction, volume rendering, making measurements and image uploading to Radiopedia. Horos is free but if you want cloud-based storage, you have to pay because it doesn’t come with an integrated PACS system.

  • 3DimViewer: Very light, efficient and practical. This software will help the beginner get the grasp of things while learning the basics of DICOM viewer usage. It will run on any operating system (Mac included) and will offer multiplanar views but no image editing, sharing and exporting.

  • Miele LXIV: This is a free DICOM viewer for Mac. It can show MRP, MIP and allows 4D viewing of cardiac CTs. Another advantage is that it is integrated with a cloud-based PACS so exporting, sharing and storing of the images is very easy.

  • Gingko CADx: Very convenient because it is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux operating systems. It can support PACS but provides no advanced tools in the free version. All these features are available in the paid version.



Are there any other specs that I should know about?

Yes, there are:

  • Favorites list: You may want a free online DICOM viewer with the option of a list of favorites. For instance, if the healthcare professional is a spine surgeon, they might find it helpful for a specific image to pop-up on their screen when the software runs. This image can be the sagittal view of the L4-L5 disc space or all the axial views of the cervical spine.

  • Brightness setting: Some viewers offer the ability to automatically set the brightness of the screen at an appropriate level according to the hour of the day and how dark or bright the workstation actually is at that moment. This feature can be preset as well by the operator should the working environment remain the same at all times.

  • Scroll wheel: One feature that can be annoying when using an online DICOM image viewer is the function of the scroll wheel. Not all software makers agree on what scrolling up or down should mean in terms of what the doctor would like to do and the results are catastrophic. Sometimes scrolling up/down means zoom in/out. Sometimes it equals to moving to the next/previous image. Sometimes it means “change the sequence.” And these apply on viewing CT and MRI scans. When someone wants to view X-rays of a patient using a DICOM viewer, they might consume more time than if they were printed in the first place. Left clicks and right clicks are involved but only immediately after you select which image you want to view. Great care must be taken if you want to zoom in. Not to mention the patience needed to view an image on a smartphone or a tablet. So, keep in mind that the exact specs matter and that the viewer’s “gameplay” correlates with your workflow.

  • A useful red line: Most healthcare professionals agree that the addition of a small window in the bottom left or right corner with a red line in the middle as an indication of where exactly the “cut” of the examination area actually is, is mandatory. Many images even in the eyes of the most experienced healthcare professionals look the same after many hours of work and the presence of a helping box ensures that there will be no mistakes. It also guides the doctor exactly to the spot where the problem is and saves time and energy. This red line also helps with the cross-examination of doctors with different specialties and with reference scans that took place in the past as well. If you download an online DICOM viewer for Mac with no such tool it won’t mean the end of the world but you have every reason to get it.

  • Anonymity: This is another very important feature. Ethics committees have already established firm guidelines to protect the patients/citizens from leakage of personal data. On one hand, it is essential for the patient-doctor cooperation that the latter has access to all the previous tests and scans that the patient underwent. On the other hand, all of the patient’s personal information is written on them and in terms of anonymity, this access should be limited. That is exactly why the DICOM viewer chosen must have the option to fully erase the patient’s data or simply hide them using a single switch. It is up to the doctor at this point to make good use of their patient’s personal information and do not use it for research, making presentations, or oral speeches without the patient’s written consent. In any case, a DICOM viewer for Mac should provide with the option of full anonymity.



Which is the best DICOM viewer for Mac for me?

To summarize, when someone looks for the best and most reliable DICOM viewer for Mac, they look for practically everything: versatility, flexibility, cutting-edge technology and low cost. We believe that PostDICOM offers the best solution overall because it runs not only on Mac OS but on Windows and Linux as well. It comes with all the necessary features and premium tools such as MRP, MIP, 3D reconstruction and rendering and offers sharing, exporting, exchanging and storing of the images. On top of that, it is integrated with a cloud-based PACS which expands the potential of the system tremendously. No more worrying about speed, slow workflow, technical issues or difficult-to-use software. PostDICOM comes with 50 GB free storage space to begin with and free technical support. If these aren’t enough for the advanced user, there are pro editions of PostDICOM where all the features are enhanced ensuring maximum performance. PostDICOM can satisfy even the most demanding user as it offers everything there is when it comes to image viewing. And you can do that quickly, on-demand, from ANY device and in style!

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