6.1.2.3 Encoding of character repertoires

The 7-bit default character repertoire can be replaced for use in Value Representations SH, LO, ST, LT, PN and UT with one of the single-byte codes defined in PS3.3.

Note: This replacement character repertoire does not apply to other textual Value Representations (AE and CS).

The replacement character repertoire shall be specified in value 1 of the Attribute Specific Character Set (0008,0005). Defined Terms for the Attribute Specific Character Set are specified in PS3.3.

Note: 1. The code table is split into the GL area which supports a 94 character set only (bit combinations 02/01 to 07/14) plus SPACE in 02/00 and the GR area which supports either a 94 or 96 character set (bit combinations 10/01 to 15/14 or 10/00 to 15/15). The default character set (ISO-IR 6) is always invoked in the GL area.

2. All character sets specified in ISO 8859 include ISO-IR 6. This set will always be invoked in the GL area of the code table and is the equivalent of ASCII (ANSI X3.4:1986), whereas the various extension repertoires are mapped onto the GR area of the code table.

3. The 8-bit code table of JIS X 0201 includes ISO-IR 14 (romaji alphanumeric characters) as the G0 code element and ISO-IR 13 (katakana phonetic characters) as the G1 code element. ISO-IR 14 is identical to ISO-IR 6, except that bit combination 05/12 represents a “(”(YEN SIGN) and bit combination 07/14 represents an over-line.

Two character codes of the single-byte character sets invoked in the GL area of the code table, 02/00 and 05/12, have special significance in the DICOM Standard. The character SPACE, represented by bit combination 02/00, shall be used for the padding of Data Element Values that are character strings. The Graphic Character represented by the bit combination 05/12, "\" (BACKSLASH) in the repertoire ISO-IR 6, shall only be used in character strings with Value Representations of UT, ST and LT (see Section 6.2). Otherwise the character code 05/12 is used as a separator for multiple valued Data Elements (see Section 6.4).

Note: When the value of the Attribute Specific Character Set (0008,0005) is either “ISO_IR 13” or “ISO 2022 IR 13”, the graphic character represented by the bit combination 05/12 is a “(” (YEN SIGN) in the character set of ISO-IR 14.

The character DELETE (bit combination 07/15) shall not be used in DICOM character strings.

The replacement Character Repertoire specified in value 1 of the Attribute Specific Character Set (0008,0005) (or the default Character Repertoire if value 1 is empty) may be further extended with additional Coded Character Sets, if needed and permitted by the replacement Character Repertoire. The additional Coded Character Sets and extension mechanism shall be specified in additional values of the Attribute Specific Character Set. If Attribute Specific Character Set (0008,0005) has a single value, the DICOM SOP Instance supports only one code table and no Code Extension techniques. If Attribute Specific Character Set (0008,0005) has multiple values, the DICOM SOP Instance supports Code Extension techniques as described in ISO/IEC 2022:1994.

The Character Repertoires that prohibit extension are identified in Part 3.

Notes: 1. Considerations on the Handling of Unsupported Character Sets:

In DICOM, character sets are not negotiated between Application Entities but are indicated by a conditional attribute of the SOP Common Module. Therefore, implementations may be confronted with character sets that are unknown to them.

The Unicode Standard includes a substantial discussion of the recommended means for display and print for characters that lack font support. These same recommendations may apply to the mechanisms for unsupported character sets.

The machine should print or display such characters by replacing all unknown characters with the four characters "\nnn", where "nnn" is the three digit octal representation of each byte.

An example of this for an ASCII based machine would be as follows:

Character String: Günther Encoded representation: 04/07 15/12 06/14 07/04 06/08 06/05 07/02 ASCII based machine: G\374nther

Implementations may also encounter Control Characters which they have no means to print or display. The machine may print or display such Control Characters by replacing the Control Character with the four characters “\nnn”, where “nnn” is the three digit octal representation of each byte.

2. Considerations for missing fonts

The Unicode standard and the GB18030 standard define mechanisms for print and display of characters that are missing from the available fonts. The DICOM standard does not specify user interface behavior since it does not affect network or media data exchange.

3. The Unicode and GB18030 standards have distinct Yen symbol, backslash, and several forms of reverse solidus. The separator for multi-valued data elements in DICOM is the character valued 05/12 regardless of what glyph is used to enter or display this character. The other reverse solidus characters that have a very similar appearance are not separators. The choice of font can affect the appearance of 05/12 significantly. Multi-byte encoding systems, such as GB18030 and ISO 2022, may generate encodings that contain a byte valued 05/12. Only the character that encodes as a single byte valued 05/12 is a delimiter.

For multi-valued Data Elements, existing implementations that are expecting only single-byte replacement character sets may misinterpret the Value Multiplicity of the Data Element as a consequence of interpreting 05/12 bytes in multi-byte characters or ISO 2022 escape sequences as delimiters, and this may affect the integrity of store-and-forward operations. Applications that do not explicitly state support for GB18030 or ISO 2022 in their conformance statement, might exhibit such behavior.