, Volume 20, Issue 8, pp 1896-1904

An open source toolkit for medical imaging de-identification

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Abstract

Objective

Medical imaging acquired for clinical purposes can have several legitimate secondary uses in research projects and teaching libraries. No commonly accepted solution for anonymising these images exists because the amount of personal data that should be preserved varies case by case. Our objective is to provide a flexible mechanism for anonymising Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) data that meets the requirements for deployment in multicentre trials.

Methods

We reviewed our current de-identification practices and defined the relevant use cases to extract the requirements for the de-identification process. We then used these requirements in the design and implementation of the toolkit. Finally, we tested the toolkit taking as a reference those requirements, including a multicentre deployment.

Results

The toolkit successfully anonymised DICOM data from various sources. Furthermore, it was shown that it could forward anonymous data to remote destinations, remove burned-in annotations, and add tracking information to the header. The toolkit also implements the DICOM standard confidentiality mechanism.

Conclusion

A DICOM de-identification toolkit that facilitates the enforcement of privacy policies was developed. It is highly extensible, provides the necessary flexibility to account for different de-identification requirements and has a low adoption barrier for new users.

All authors are affiliated to the SINAPSE collaboration (www.sinapse.ac.uk)