Decoding Your Imaging Report

Understanding your medical imaging report can feel like deciphering a foreign language. Whether it’s an X-ray, MRI, CT scan, or ultrasound, these reports are crucial for diagnosis and treatment planning. Here’s a straightforward guide to help you navigate through your imaging report, making it less intimidating and more comprehensible.

What is an Imaging Report?

An imaging report is a written document produced by a radiologist after reviewing images taken during your scan. The radiologist, a doctor specialized in interpreting medical images, describes findings, identifies any abnormalities, and suggests possible diagnoses. This report is then used by your referring physician to manage your care.

Key Sections of an Imaging Report

  1. Patient and Exam Information: At the top of the report, you’ll find your name, date of birth, the date of the exam, and specifics about the type of scan performed. This section ensures that the report corresponds to the right patient and the correct test.
  2. History/Reason for Exam: Here, the reason for the imaging study is mentioned, such as symptoms you’ve reported or conditions your doctor is investigating. This context helps the radiologist focus on potential issues relevant to your situation. Example: 64-year-old female with a history of breast cancer and new onset abdominal pain.
  3. Comparison: If you’ve had previous scans, the radiologist might compare them to the current images to check for any changes over time. This could be noted as “Comparison made with imaging dated…”
  4. Technique: This section details the procedure of the exam and notes whether contrast material was used. Primarily for record-keeping, this information might not be directly useful to you or your doctor. However, it is valuable for radiologists to reference in any future imaging studies if necessary.
  5. Findings: This is the core of the report and often the most technical part. The radiologist details what they see in the images, including:
    • Normal findings: Parts of the body that look as they should.
    • Abnormal findings: Areas that show potential issues, which could be anything from inflammation, fractures, tumors, or other anomalies.
    • Measurements: If any abnormalities are found, they might be measured and described in detail.
  1. Impression or Conclusion: The final section provides a summary of the findings. This might include potential diagnoses or recommendations for further testing or follow-up scans. It is essentially the radiologist’s expert interpretation of what the images reveal.

Once the report is complete, the radiologist signs it and sends it to your physician. Your provider will then discuss the results with you.

Sometimes, you may have questions about your report that your provider cannot answer. If so, fill out our Ask a Radiologist form so one of our fellowship-trained radiologists can answer it for you! Please note: this is not intended as a way to deliver patient results. Please contact your referring provider if you are waiting for the results of your imaging exam with us.

Understanding Medical Jargon

Medical reports are filled with complex terms and abbreviations. Here are a few common terms you might encounter:

  • Lesion: A broad term for abnormal tissue; can be benign or malignant.
  • Bilateral: Referring to both sides of the body.
  • Chronic: Indicates that a condition is long-term or recurring.
  • Acute: Describes sudden or severe conditions.
  • Stenosis: Narrowing of a bodily passage.
  • Edema: Swelling caused by fluid accumulation.
  • Echogenicity: Related to how much sound waves are reflected in ultrasound; helps characterize tissue types.

Check out for a more robust list of commonly used terms in radiology.

Tips for Patients

  1. Ask Questions: Don’t hesitate to ask your doctor to clarify any part of the report that you don’t understand.
  2. Take Notes: Write down any significant terms and ask what they mean for your health.
  3. Follow Up: If your report suggests further testing or follow-up, make sure to discuss the next steps with your healthcare provider.

Medical imaging reports are essential tools for healthcare providers, but they can also empower patients. Understanding your report can help you take an active role in your healthcare journey, ensuring you’re informed about your diagnosis and treatment options. Remember, your healthcare team is there to help make sense of complex information and guide you through understanding your condition and the necessary steps ahead.

Accessing Your Imaging Report

In today’s digital age, accessing your medical records has never been easier. TRA Medical Imaging offers the convenience of viewing your imaging reports through our Patient Portal and Mobile App. Once your report is ready, it will be uploaded to your secure online account, which you can access anytime and from anywhere. This allows you to review the findings at your leisure and have your medical information at your fingertips when discussing your health with your doctor or specialists. To access your imaging report, simply log in to the Patient Portal on our website, or download our Mobile App from the App Store or Google Play. Both platforms are designed to be user-friendly and secure, ensuring that your personal health information is protected while providing you with immediate access to your results.

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