nifti1.h header documentation
/* DATA STORAGE: ------------ If the magic field is "n+1", then the voxel data is stored in the same file as the header. In this case, the voxel data starts at offset (int)vox_offset into the header file. Thus, vox_offset=352.0 means that the data starts immediately after the NIFTI-1 header. If vox_offset is greater than 352, the NIFTI-1 format does not say much about the contents of the dataset file between the end of the header and the start of the data.
FILES: ----- If the magic field is "ni1", then the voxel data is stored in the associated ".img" file, starting at offset 0 (i.e., vox_offset is not used in this case, and should be set to 0.0).
/ DETAILS ABOUT vox_offset: ------------------------ In a .nii file, the vox_offset field value is interpreted as the start location of the image data bytes in that file. In a .hdr/.img file pair, the vox_offset field value is the start location of the image data bytes in the .img file. If vox_offset is less than 352 in a .nii file, it is equivalent to 352 (i.e., image data never starts before byte #352 in a .nii file). The default value for vox_offset in a .nii file is 352. In a .hdr file, the default value for vox_offset is 0. * vox_offset should be an integer multiple of 16; otherwise, some programs may not work properly (e.g., SPM). This is to allow memory-mapped input to be properly byte-aligned. Note that since vox_offset is an IEEE-754 32 bit float (for compatibility with the ANALYZE-7.5 format), it effectively has a 24 bit mantissa. All integers from 0 to 2^24 can be represented exactly in this format, but not all larger integers are exactly storable as IEEE-754 32 bit floats. However, unless you plan to have vox_offset be potentially larger than 16 MB, this should not be an issue. (Actually, any integral multiple of 16 up to 2^27 can be represented exactly in this format, which allows for up to 128 MB of random information before the image data. If that isn't enough, then perhaps this format isn't right for you.)
In a .img file (i.e., image data stored separately from the NIfTI-1 header), data bytes between #0 and #vox_offset-1 (inclusive) are completely undefined and unregulated by the NIfTI-1 standard. One potential use of having vox_offset > 0 in the .hdr/.img file pair storage method is to make the .img file be a copy of (or link to) a pre-existing image file in some other format, such as DICOM; then vox_offset would be set to the offset of the image data in this file. (It may not be possible to follow the "multiple-of-16 rule" with an arbitrary external file; using the NIfTI-1 format in such a case may lead to a file that is incompatible with software that relies on vox_offset being a multiple of 16.)
In a .nii file, data bytes between #348 and #vox_offset-1 (inclusive) may be used to store user-defined extra information; similarly, in a .hdr file, any data bytes after byte #347 are available for user-defined extra information. The (very weak) regulation of this extra header data is described elsewhere.
Last modified 2005-04-14 18:42