What do spine surgeons want from radiology reports?

By Erik L. Ridley, AuntMinnie staff writer

In this presentation, researchers from India will describe how collaboration with spine surgeons can help radiologists produce more clinically relevant radiology reports for spine MRI exams.

The impetus for this study was an informal chat between their radiology group and five spine surgeons, who shared comments such as "radiology reports haven't changed for more than 40 to 50 years" and "reports don't reflect clinically relevant information," according to co-author Dr. Sriram Rajan of Mahajan Imaging in New Delhi.

After reviewing spine MRI radiology reports across multiple radiology practices, the researchers found that report formats ranged from a "laundry list" approach that mentioned all levels to a clinically relevant format that correlated patient symptoms to an informal checklist. They also found variation in reporting nomenclature, including spinal canal dimensions, Rajan told AuntMinnie.com.

In hopes of ascertaining spine surgeon preferences for these reports, the researchers sent an online questionnaire to spine surgeons, querying them on their opinions on various clinically relevant topics, such as degenerative canal stenosis, nerve root impingement, nerve root anomalies, Modic changes, scoliosis, and choice of modality for preoperative evaluation.

After analyzing the 24 responses they received, the researchers determined that the report needs to include the clinically relevant information on effective spinal canal dimensions, the details of nerve root anomalies at the level of disk herniation, and the details of nerve root impingement. There was a lack of consensus, however, on Modic changes, the report format, and scoliosis assessment.

"The key implications of our study was that such two-way communication between radiologists and spine surgeons would help in improving reports and hopefully, clinical outcomes," Rajan said.