Raw Image Reading


In some, hopefully rare, cases you may only have the image information in raw pixel format, a binary blob file. For example the chest x-ray dataset from the Japanese Society of Radiological Technology (JSRT).

To read such an image you are required to know three things:

  1. Image size (number of pixels per dimenssion).

  2. Pixel type (e.g. sitkUInt16).

  3. The byte order ( or endianness) where little endian is most common.

If the byte order in unknown since it only has two options and we can try both. The one resulting in a visually correct image is the correct byte order.

As a SimpleITK image is a spatial object, we may also need to provide its origin, spacing, and directon cosine matrix. Without explicit information we can make reasonable assumptions that often work, as shown in the code below.


import argparse
import os
import tempfile

import SimpleITK as sitk

def read_raw(binary_file_name, image_size, sitk_pixel_type, image_spacing=None,
             image_origin=None, big_endian=False):
    Read a raw binary scalar image.

    binary_file_name (str): Raw, binary image file content.
    image_size (tuple like): Size of image (e.g. [2048,2048])
    sitk_pixel_type (SimpleITK pixel type: Pixel type of data (e.g.
    image_spacing (tuple like): Optional image spacing, if none given assumed
        to be [1]*dim.
    image_origin (tuple like): Optional image origin, if none given assumed to
        be [0]*dim.
    big_endian (bool): Optional byte order indicator, if True big endian, else
        little endian.

    SimpleITK image or None if fails.

    pixel_dict = {sitk.sitkUInt8: 'MET_UCHAR',
                  sitk.sitkInt8: 'MET_CHAR',
                  sitk.sitkUInt16: 'MET_USHORT',
                  sitk.sitkInt16: 'MET_SHORT',
                  sitk.sitkUInt32: 'MET_UINT',
                  sitk.sitkInt32: 'MET_INT',
                  sitk.sitkUInt64: 'MET_ULONG_LONG',
                  sitk.sitkInt64: 'MET_LONG_LONG',
                  sitk.sitkFloat32: 'MET_FLOAT',
                  sitk.sitkFloat64: 'MET_DOUBLE'}
    direction_cosine = ['1 0 0 1', '1 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1',
                        '1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1']
    dim = len(image_size)
    header = ['ObjectType = Image\n'.encode(),
              (f'NDims = {dim}\n').encode(),
              ('DimSize = ' + ' '.join([str(v) for v in image_size]) + '\n')
              ('ElementSpacing = ' + (' '.join([str(v) for v in image_spacing])
                                      if image_spacing else ' '.join(
                  ['1'] * dim)) + '\n').encode(),
              ('Offset = ' + (
                  ' '.join([str(v) for v in image_origin]) if image_origin
                  else ' '.join(['0'] * dim) + '\n')).encode(),
              ('TransformMatrix = ' + direction_cosine[dim - 2] + '\n')
              ('ElementType = ' + pixel_dict[sitk_pixel_type] + '\n').encode(),
              'BinaryData = True\n'.encode(),
              ('BinaryDataByteOrderMSB = ' + str(big_endian) + '\n').encode(),
              # ElementDataFile must be the last entry in the header
              ('ElementDataFile = ' + os.path.abspath(
                  binary_file_name) + '\n').encode()]
    fp = tempfile.NamedTemporaryFile(suffix='.mhd', delete=False)


    # Not using the tempfile with a context manager and auto-delete
    # because on windows we can't open the file a second time for ReadImage.
    img = sitk.ReadImage(fp.name)
    return img

parser = argparse.ArgumentParser()
parser.add_argument('raw_file_name', help='path to raw binary image file')
                    help='output file name when image read as little endian')
parser.add_argument("big_endian", type=lambda v: v.lower() in {"1", "true"},
                    help="\'false\' for little ending or \'true\'for big "
                    help="SimpleITK pixel type (e.g. sitk.sitkUInt16)")
parser.add_argument('sz', nargs='+', help="image size, x,y,...",
args = parser.parse_args()

string_to_pixelType = {"sitkUInt8": sitk.sitkUInt8,
                       "sitkInt8": sitk.sitkInt8,
                       "sitkUInt16": sitk.sitkUInt16,
                       "sitkInt16": sitk.sitkInt16,
                       "sitkUInt32": sitk.sitkUInt32,
                       "sitkInt32": sitk.sitkInt32,
                       "sitkUInt64": sitk.sitkUInt64,
                       "sitkInt64": sitk.sitkInt64,
                       "sitkFloat32": sitk.sitkFloat32,
                       "sitkFloat64": sitk.sitkFloat64}

# Read the image using both big and little endian
image = read_raw(binary_file_name=args.raw_file_name,

sitk.WriteImage(image, args.out_file_name)

if "SITK_NOSHOW" not in os.environ:
    sitk.Show(image, 'raw converted')