Insider Guide to Understanding Your Radiology Report

Trying to understand your radiology report can be overwhelming. To demystify the confusing parts, we created a series of guides that help you navigate the sections of radiology report, ….. (intro)

Main Sections in a Radiology Report

Confirm Diagnosis Before Treatment

Technique

This section describes exactly how the exam was performed, including the field of view and whether contrast was used. This information is helpful to your radiologist and other healthcare providers.

Example:

Multiplanar multisequence MR imaging was performed of the brain and IACs with and without contrast.

Conflicting Diagnosis

Comparison

Typically, comparisons are made between studies of the same body area and exam type. In this section of a radiology report, the radiologist will list the exams used for comparison.

If you have had previous imaging done of the same body area, but notice it is not listed in this section of your report, it’s a good idea to check-in with your providers and let them know you have prior exams. When available, comparisons offer valuable information and are an important part of a thorough analysis.

Example:

Comparison made with previous cervical spine MRI dated 17-June-2018.

Conflicting Diagnosis

Findings

Typically the longest section in a radiology report, this is where the radiologist lists each piece of anatomy examined in the study, along with notes regarding what they saw on the scan. You will likely see words such as *unremarkable*, *normal*, *abnormal*, or *potentially abnormal* used as descriptors for each section. If something is found to appear abnormal, an explanation should follow describing the abnormality.

Example:

CT Chest dated 9/22/2020:
Lungs: Scattered centrilobular groundglass nodules, most prominent in the right middle lobe. No septal thickening or focal consolidation. No mass-like opacities. No atelectasis or bronchiectasis.
Pleural space: Unremarkable. No pneumothorax. No effusion.
Heart: Unremarkable. No cardiomegaly. No pericardial effusion.
Bones/joints: Unremarkable. No acute fracture. No dislocation.
Soft tissues: Unremarkable.
Vasculature: Unremarkable. No thoracic aortic aneurysm.

Conflicting Diagnosis

Impression

The impression section of a radiology report contains the meat of the interpretation. It is the most critical part of the report and the section that you should pay the most attention to. Here, the radiologist summarizes their analysis of the findings in relation to your clinical history. The impression is essentially the result of your diagnostic imaging scan.

Example:

Scattered centrilobular groundglass nodules that are more prominent in the right middle lobe. Differential diagnosis includes hypersensitivity pneumonitis, respiratory bronchiolitis, endobronchial spread of infection (TB, non-tuberculous mycobacterial infection,aspergillosis).

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