Key Image

A key image is a clinically significant image has been flagged or marked by the interpreting physician. Because devices such as multi-slice CTs and MRIs can generate studies that contain hundreds (if not thousands) of images, a mechanism for flagging and retrieving key images is critical. In a workflow that supports key images, other physicians such as surgeons or referring physicians can easily access the key images instead of having to browse the entire study.

While key images can be flagged using vendor-specific mechanisms, it is better to use a non-proprietary standard such as DICOM. This allows a system from one vendor to identify key images that were initially flagged on a system from a different vendor.

In DICOM, a key image is generically referred to as a key object, and is stored as an SR object using the Key Object Selection Document SOP class. An instance of a key object contains a reference to the image and a text string indicating the purpose of that image.

In IHE, the Key Image Notes (KIN) integration profile addresses the implementation of DICOM key images.

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