little helper to ease DICOM conversion to ready-to-share folder with heuristics
Python Makefile
Latest commit 930ba48 Nov 2, 2016 @satra satra committed on GitHub Merge pull request #31 from dartmouth-pbs/enh-dbic1
NF+ENH: make heuidiconv being able to layout the files deducing subject_id and using other DICOM fields

HeuDiConv - Heuristic DICOM Converter

This is a flexible DICOM converter for organizing brain imaging data into structured directory layouts.

  • it allows flexible directory layouts and naming schemes through customizable heuristics implementations
  • it only converts the necessary DICOMs, not everything in a directory
  • you can keep links to DICOM files in the participant layout
  • it's faster than parsesdicomdir or mri_convert if you use dcm2niix option
  • it tracks the provenance of the conversion from DICOM to NIfTI in W3C PROV format
  • the cmrr_heuristic example shows a conversion to BIDS layout structure


You can clone this directory and do a make install

or you can download the heudiconv script from the bin directory

curl -O
chmod +x heudiconv

as long as the following dependencies are in your path you can use the script


  • pydicom
  • dcmstack
  • nipype
  • nibabel

One of the following:

  • dcm2niix (preferred)
  • dcm2nii
  • mri_convert
  • dcmstack

How it works (in some more detail)

Call heudiconv like this:

heudiconv -d '%s*.tar*' -s xx05 -f ~/myheuristics/

where -d '%s*tar*' is an expression used to find DICOM files (%s expands to a subject ID so that the expression will match any .tar files, compressed or not that start with the subject ID in their name). -s od05 specifies a subject ID for the conversion (this could be a list of multiple IDs), and -f ~/myheuristics/ identifies a heuristic implementation for this conversion (see below) for details.

This call will locate the DICOMs (in any number of matching tarballs), extract them to a temporary directory, search for any DICOM series it can find, and attempts a conversion storing output in the current directory. The output directory will contain a subdirectory per subject, which in turn contains an info directory with a full protocol of detected DICOM series, and how their are converted.

The info directory

The info directory contains a copy of the heuristic script as well as the dicomseries information. In addition there are two files and NAME.edit.txt. You can change series number assignments in NAME.edit.txt and rerun the converter to apply the changes. To start from scratch remove the participant directory.


soon you'll be able to:

  • add more tags to the metadata representation of the files
  • and push the metadata to a provenance store

The heuristic file

The heuristic file controls how information about the dicoms is used to convert to a file system layout (e.g., BIDS). This is a python file that must have the function infotodict, which takes a single argument seqinfo.

seqinfo and the s variable

Each item in seqinfo contains the following ordered elements.

[total_files_till_now, example_dcm_file, series_number, unspecified, unspecified, 
unspecified, dim1, dim2, dim3,  dim4, TR, TE, SeriesDescription, MotionCorrectedOrNot]

128     125000-1-1.dcm  1       -       -       
-       160     160     128     1       0.00315 1.37    AAHScout        False

The dictionary returned by infotodict

This dictionary contains as keys a 3-tuple (template, a tuple of output types, annotation classes).

template - how the file should be relative to the base directory tuple of output types - what format of output should be created - nii.gz, dicom, etc.,. annotation classes - unused

Example: ('func/sub-{subject}_task-face_run-{item:02d}_acq-PA_bold', ('nii.gz', 
        'dicom'), None)

A few fields are defined by default and can be used in the template:

  • item: index within category
  • subject: participant id
  • seqitem: run number during scanning
  • subindex: sub index within group
  • session: session info for multi-session studies and when session has been defined as a parameter for heudiconv

Additional variables may be added and can be returned in the value of the dictionary returned from the function.

info[some_3-tuple] = [12, 14, 16] would assign dicom sequence groups 12, 14 and 16 to be converted using the template specified in some_3-tuple.

if the template contained a non-sanctioned variable, it would have to be provided in the values for that key.

some_3_tuple = ('func/sub-{subject}_task-face_run-{item:02d}_acq-{acq}_bold', ('nii.gz', 
        'dicom'), None)

In the above example {acq} is not a standard variable. In this case, values for this variable needs to be added.

info[some_3-tuple] = [{'item': 12, 'acq': 'AP'},
                      {'item': 14, 'acq': 'AP'},
                      {'item': 16, 'acq': 'PA'}]