A DICOM object is identified by its Information Object Definition, or IOD. These IODs are specified using modules, which consists of the most basic DICOM unit, the data element or attribute.

The modules are described as a group of data elements. 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 is related to the real-world patient information entity, and contains patient name, birth date, sex, etc.

The IOD definitions start with a module table for each modality type, and list all of the modules included in that IOD. These modules could be mandatory, optional or conditionally required. The patient module is a good example of a mandatory module, because without patient information, the image is unidentifiable and useless.

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