# Working with Pixel Data¶

How to work with pixel data in pydicom.

## Introduction¶

pydicom tends to be “lazy” in interpreting DICOM data. For example, by default it doesn’t do anything with pixel data except read in the raw bytes:

>>> import pydicom
>>> from pydicom.data import get_testdata_files
>>> filename = get_testdata_files("MR_small.dcm")[0]
>>> ds = pydicom.dcmread(filename)
>>> ds.PixelData
b'\x89\x03\xfb\x03\xcb\x04\xeb\x04\xf9\x02\x94\x01\x7f...


PixelData contains the raw bytes exactly as found in the file. If the image is JPEG compressed, these bytes will be the compressed pixel data, not the expanded, uncompressed image. Whether the image is e.g. 16-bit or 8-bit, multiple frames or not, PixelData contains the same raw bytes. But there is a function that can shape the pixels more sensibly if you need to work with them …

## pixel_array¶

Warning

To work with the pixel_array property NumPy must be installed on your system.

A property of dataset.Dataset called pixel_array provides more useful pixel data for uncompressed and compressed images (decompressing compressed images if supported). The pixel_array property returns a NumPy array:

>>> ds.pixel_array
array([[ 905, 1019, 1227, ...,  302,  304,  328],
[ 628,  770,  907, ...,  298,  331,  355],
[ 498,  566,  706, ...,  280,  285,  320],
...,
[ 334,  400,  431, ..., 1094, 1068, 1083],
[ 339,  377,  413, ..., 1318, 1346, 1336],
[ 378,  374,  422, ..., 1369, 1129,  862]], dtype=int16)
>>> ds.pixel_array.shape
(64, 64)


NumPy can be used to modify the pixels, but if the changes are to be saved, they must be written back to the PixelData attribute:

for n,val in enumerate(ds.pixel_array.flat): # example: zero anything < 300
if val < 300:
ds.pixel_array.flat[n]=0
ds.PixelData = ds.pixel_array.tobytes()
ds.save_as("newfilename.dcm")

import os
os.remove("newfilename.dcm")


Some changes may require other DICOM tags to be modified. For example, if the pixel data is reduced (e.g. a image is collapsed to ) then ds.Rows and ds.Columns should be set appropriately. You must explicitly set these yourself; pydicom does not do so automatically.

See Downsize MRI image using pydicom for an example.

pixel_array can also be used to pass image data to graphics libraries for viewing. See Viewing Images for details.