A large set of DICOM objects are defined in the standard to contain the information that is exchanged using DICOM message services. Each of these standardized objects is defined in detail in the Information Object Definition or IOD. These IODs are specified using modules, which consists of the most basic DICOM unit, the data element or attribute.

When you take, for example, a CT and MR image object, many parts of the two objects are identical. They both contain patient information, study information, equipment information and image pixels. These image objects are very similar, except for the fact that a CT image is acquired using X-Rays and MRI images use a strong magnetic field - each of which requires unique attributes. Therefore, the DICOM standard uses modules to group information items that are similar for multiple objects so they only have to be defined once in the standard. For example, a patient module contains patient name, birth date, sex, etc.

The module specifies the individual attributes and their type. The type specifies whether or not an attribute is required (Type 1), optional (Type 3), conditional (C) or required and ciuld be empty (Type 2). 

As an example of a conditional type, let’s say for an image, the contrast/bolus module is conditionally required (C). This means that if the condition described in the table is met, then the module must be included as part of the object. In this case, it is present depending on whether contrast has been administered.

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