Codes or controlled terminology is essential to communicate concepts and entities in a manner that leaves no guessing.
CPT stands for Current Procedural Terminology. CPT Codes are increasingly used in healthcare and are the most commonly used codes in hospitals for identifying procedures. Several payers only accept CPT codes for processing payments. There are codes identified for diagnosis, also known as ICD version 9 or 10 by the World Health Organization. Procedure codes are part of the radiology order, scheduled in an information system, and are typically passed to image acquisition modalities using the DICOM Modality Worklist An institution typically requires a license to use these procedure codes. Alternately, they may use their own codes or a private extension to this licensed list.
There is another group of codes used in diagnostic imaging, meaning to identify anatomic references, such as the body part examined, view codes, measurement information and examination context information. A device might have great difficulty routing an image if the criteria that it uses are based on free text instead of codes. The body part also might be important for grouping the images in specific folders or reading worklists for interpretation and/or viewing.
The view codes (PA, Lateral, Oblique, etc.) are important, especially to accommodate the various hanging protocols.
All codes used in the DICOM messaging are specified in a separate part of the standard, i.e. part 16, most of them come from other coding schemes such as SNOMED, LOINC and others, some are specified for use in the DICOM standard only.
A code always requires the specification of the coding scheme used, optional the version number, and the meaning, the latter being a textual representation of the code value.