Incidental findings in imaging research: evaluating incidence, benefit, and burden.
ABSTRACT Little information exists concerning the frequency and medical significance of incidental findings (IFs) in imaging research.
Medical records of research participants undergoing a research imaging examination interpreted by a radiologist during January through March 2004 were reviewed, with 3-year clinical follow-up. An expert panel reviewed all IFs generating clinical action to determine medical benefit/burden on the basis of predefined criteria. The frequency of IFs that generated further clinical action was estimated by modality, body part, age, and sex, along with net medical benefit or burden.
Of 1426 research imaging examinations, 567 (39.8%) had at least 1 IF (1055 total). Risk of an IF increased significantly by age (odds ratio [OR], 1.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.4-1.7 per decade increase). Abdominopelvic computed tomography generated more IFs than other examinations (OR, 18.9 vs ultrasonography; 9.2% with subsequent clinical action), with computed tomography of the thorax and magnetic resonance imaging of the head next (OR, 11.9 and 5.9; 2.8% and 2.2% with action, respectively). Of the 567 examinations with an IF, 35 (6.2%) generated clinical action, resulting in clear medical benefit in 1.1% (6 of 567) and clear medical burden in 0.5% (3 of 567). Medical benefit/burden was usually unclear (26 of 567 [4.6%]).
Frequency of IFs in imaging research examinations varies significantly by imaging modality, body region, and age. Research imaging studies at high risk for generating IFs can be identified. Routine evaluation of research images by radiologists may result in identification of IFs in a high number of cases and subsequent clinical action to address them in a small but significant minority. Such clinical action can result in medical benefit to a small number of patients.
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ABSTRACT: Neuroimaging is an important diagnostic tool in the assessment of neurological disease, but often unmasks Incidental Findings (IFs). The negative impacts of IFs, such as 'patient' anxiety, present neurologists with management dilemmas, largely due to the limited knowledge base surrounding the medical significance of these IFs. In particular, the lack of evidence-based clinical trials investigating the efficacy of treatments for subclinical IFs makes management protocols challenging. The objective was to determine the impact IFs may have on neurologists' workloads and healthcare budgets and to examine neurologists' concerns regarding the clinical management of these 'patients'. Qualitative research based on constructivist grounded theory. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews of purposively sampled neurologists, coded, and concurrent comparative analysis performed. A substantive theory of the 'IF impacts' was developed after concept saturation. Neurologists managed the escalating workload caused by an increased number of referrals of 'patients' with IFs found during neuroimaging; however it was unclear whether this was sustainable in the future. Neurologists experienced IF management dilemmas and spent more time with 'patients' affected by anxiety. The lack of information provided to those undergoing neuroimaging by the referring clinician regarding the possibility of discovering IFs was highlighted. The impact of IFs upon the neurologist, 'patient' and the health institution appeared considerable. Further research determining the natural history of subclinical IFs and the efficacy of intervention will help to alleviate these issues.PLoS ONE 02/2015; 10(2):e0118155. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0118155 · 3.53 Impact Factor
Digestive and Liver Disease 09/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.dld.2014.08.046 · 2.89 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Objectives The term functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID) describes various aggregations of chronic gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms not explained by identifiable organic pathology; accordingly, their diagnosis rests on symptom-based criteria and a process of exclusion. Evidence is lacking on the appropriate use of abdominal imaging studies (AIS) in FGIDs. Methods We investigated the utilisation of AIS (site, modality, diagnostic yield/significance) at a tertiary FGID clinic over an 11-year period. Results Of 1,621 patients, 507 (31 %; 67.5 % women, mean age 43.9 ± 17.37 years) referred from primary care had 997 AIS (1.7 per patient): ultrasonography (US) 36.1 %, fluoroscopy (FLS) 28.8 %, computed tomography (CT) 19.6 %, plain radiography (PR) 13.5 %, nuclear medicine (NM) 1 %). Of the 997 AIS, 55.6 % (554/997) were normal. Of the AIS with positive findings, 9.9 % (62/625) were deemed ‘probably significant’ and 14.7 % (92/625) ‘significant’. Of the CT and FLS studies, 12.3 % and 13.6 %, respectively, yielded ‘significant’ abnormalities compared to 2.2 % of the US studies and 2.1 % of the PR studies. CT identified five of seven neoplasms, associated with male sex, increasing age and symptom onset after age 50 years. Conclusions This study confirmed low use of AIS in tertiary FGID clinics and a high proportion of normal studies. Barium swallow/meal and CT were more likely to identify ‘probably significant’ or ‘significant’ findings, including neoplasms. Key Points • Imaging referral rates from a specialist functional gastrointestinal disorder clinic are low • Despite this, normal studies are still frequent in those who are imaged • Ultrasonography was the most frequent investigation, yet yielded significant findings infrequently • Abdominal radiographs accounted for 13.5 % of investigations yet were normal in 71.8 % • CT and fluoroscopy were more likely to yield positive findingsEuropean Radiology 07/2014; 24(12). DOI:10.1007/s00330-014-3315-6 · 4.34 Impact Factor