gdcmscu(1) Tool to execute a DICOM Query/Retrieve operation



Execute a DICOM Q/R operation to HOSTNAME, using port PORT (104 when not specified)


The gdcmscu command line program is the tool to execute DICOM Query/Retrieve operation. It supports:




• C-MOVE (SCU/SCP) C-MOVE operation are executed using two different ports (one for the SCU and one for the SCP).



specific options

  -H --hostname    %s  Hostname.
  -p --port        %d  Port number.
     --aetitle     %s  Set calling AE Title.
     --call        %s  Set called AE Title.

mode options

     --echo           C-ECHO (default when none).
     --store          C-STORE.
     --find           C-FIND.
     --move           C-MOVE.

C-STORE options

  -i --input       %s   DICOM filename
  -r --recursive        recursively process (sub-)directories
     --store-query %s   Store constructed query in file

C-FIND/C-MOVE options

     --patientroot       C-FIND Patient Root Model.
     --studyroot         C-FIND Study Root Model.
     --patient           C-FIND Query on Patient Info (cannot be used with --studyroot).
     --study             C-FIND Query on Study Info.
     --series            C-FIND Query on Series Info.
     --image             C-FIND Query on Image Info.
     --key   %d,%d[=%s]  0123,4567=VALUE for specifying search criteria (wildcard allowed)
                         With --key, leave blank (ie, --key 10,20="" or --key 10,20) to retrieve values

C-MOVE options

  -o --output    %s      DICOM filename / directory
     --port-scp  %d      Port for incoming associations
     --key   %d,%d[=%s   0123,4567=VALUE for specifying search criteria (wildcard not allowed)
                         Note that C-MOVE supports the same queries as C-FIND, but no wildcards are allowed

general options

  -h   --help
         print this help text and exit
  -v   --version
         print version information and exit
  -V   --verbose
         verbose mode (warning+error).
  -W   --warning
         warning mode, print warning information
  -E   --error
         error mode, print error information
  -D   --debug
         debug mode, print debug information
  -L   --log-file
         specify a filename where to write logs
         print query help

environment variable



gdcmscu is a great tool to test if a DICOM server is up. For example to send a C-ECHO to server using port 104, use:

$ gdcmscu

or if you prefer being explicit:

$ gdcmscu --echo 104

Using basic security your DICOM server might require that you set the appropriate called AE-TITLE

$ gdcmscu --echo 11112 --call SERVSCP

If you want to specifiy your own AE-TITLE (default is GDCMSCU), simply use:

$ gdcmscu --echo 11112 --call SERVSCP --aetitle MYSCU

For example you could test on the DICOM server provided by DICOMObject team:

$ gdcmscu 11112


C-STORE is the operation that allow sending a DICOM file to a remote DICOM server. For instance to send a file called myfile.dcm

$ gdcmscu --store 104 myfile.dcm

or if you prefer being explicit:

$ gdcmscu --store 104 -i myfile.dcm

You can even send multiple files using the same association:

$ gdcmscu --store 104 myfile1.dcm myfile2.dcm myfile3.dcm ...


gdcmscu also allow querying a DICOM server. This is the C-FIND operation, for example to find all DICOM Instance where PatientsName match a particular pattern, usage is simply:

$ gdcmscu --find --patient 11112 --patientroot --key 10,10,"A*"

We also support a DCMTK compatible convention:

$ gdcmscu --find --patient 11112 --patientroot --key 10,10="A*"

When an attribute is set without a value it will be part of the output result:

$ gdcmscu --find --patient 11112 --call MI2B2 --patientroot -k 10,10="A*" -k 10,20


C-MOVE is the operation to retrieve a DICOM instance from a remote DICOM server. Most of the time, it is a subsequent operation after a C-FIND query. To retrieve a DICOM instance where PatientID is ABCD1234, simply execute:

$ gdcmscu --move --patient --aetitle ACME1 --call ACME_STORE 5678 --patientroot -k 10,20="ABCD1234" --port-scp 1234

WARNING For this operation to work you need information from the DICOM server you are communicating with. Only the DICOM server you are sending a C-MOVE query will be responsible for sending back incoming associations (the actual C-STORE SCP). Therefore you need to make sure that you mapping of (AE-TITLE,PortNumber) is properly set on the DICOM server side as well as the port for incoming association (-port-scp).

gdcmscu does not currently support external C-STORE association (C-STORE request sent to an external SCP application).


The flag -patientroot is just simply a wrapper around the syntax -key 8,52=PATIENT For instance one would write using DCMTK syntax:

$ findscu --patient 11112 --key 8,52=PATIENT --key 10,10="F*"

This would become using GDCM syntax:

$ gdcmscu --find --patient 11112 --patientroot --key 10,10="F*"


This is sometime difficult to investigate why a connection to a remote DICOM server cannot be done. Some recommendations follows:

Always try to do a simple C-ECHO at first. If you cannot get the C-ECHO to work none of the other operations will work

Before trying to a C-MOVE operation, make sure you can execute the C-FIND equivalent query first.

When doing a C-MOVE operation you really need to communicate with the PACS admin as the C-MOVE operation is different from the other lower level operation such as HTTP/GET. When doing a C-MOVE, the server will communicate back using another channel (could be different port) using it's internal database to map an AE-TITLE back to the destination IP.

Indeed the C-MOVE operation by design does not always use your incoming IP address to send back the resulting dataset. Instead it uses a mapping of AE-TITLE to IP address to send back any results. So pay particular attention to the spelling of your AE-TITLE and your incoming port (which may be different from the port to connect to the server).


Watch out that port ranging [1-1024] are reserved for admin and not easily accessible unless granted special privileges. Therefore the default 104 DICOM port might not be accessible to all your users.


When constructing a C-STORE operation, gdcmscu will always use the Media Storage SOP Class UID as found in the file to be sent. For encapsulated DICOM file (eg. RLE Lossless) the receiving SCP server might not support this compression and will legitimately refuse the C-STORE operation. In this case users have to manually convert to a non-compressed form this particular file:

$ gdcmconv --raw compressed.dcm non_compressed.dcm


At the moment gdcmscu only supports non-compressed transfer syntax. It will always request DataSet using Implicit VR Little Endian Transfer Syntax during a C-MOVE operation (both incoming and outgoing associations). This make gdcmscu -move equivalent to DCMTK movescu syntax:

$ movescu -xi +xi ...


One should pay attention that gdcmscu -find and findscu are not completely equivalent. Using gdcmscu -find, all Unique Keys will be added automatically. One can therefore execute something like this:

$ gdcmscu --find --patientroot --image --key 8,18= 11112

instead of the more explicit form

$ gdcmscu --find --patientroot --image --key 8,18= 11112 --key 10,20 --key 20,d --key 20,e

This would also be equivalent to:

$ findscu --patient --key 8,52=IMAGE --key 8,18= 11112 --key 10,20 --key 20,d --key 20,e


It is also possible to store the query:

gdcmscu --find --patient --patientroot 11112 --key 10,20="*" --key 10,10 --store-query query.dcm

One can then check the DataSet values send for the query:

$ gdcmdump query.dcm
# Dicom-File-Format
# Dicom-Meta-Information-Header
# Used TransferSyntax:
# Dicom-Data-Set
# Used TransferSyntax: 1.2.840.10008.1.2
(0008,0005) ?? (CS) [ISO_IR 192]                                  # 10,1-n Specific Character Set
(0008,0052) ?? (CS) [PATIENT ]                                    # 8,1 Query/Retrieve Level
(0010,0010) ?? (PN) (no value)                                    # 0,1 Patient's Name
(0010,0020) ?? (LO) [* ]                                          # 2,1 Patient ID

The Specific Character Set was set to "ISO_IR 192" as the locale encoding of the system was found automatically by gdcmscu to be UTF-8.

This means that the following command line will properly setup the Query with the appropriate Charset to be executed correctly:

$ gdcmscu --find --patient --patientroot 11112 --key 10,10="*Jérôme*"

The query is always executed on the server side (SCP), some implementations does not support string matching with different Character Set.


An up to date list of DICOM Public Servers can be found at:



Mathieu Malaterre

Main developer


Copyright © 2006, 2011 Mathieu Malaterre