Differing Interpretations of Report Terminology Between Primary Care Physicians and Radiologists

Academic Article


  • Purpose The lexicons of the radiologist and the referring physician may not be synonymous, which could cause confusion with radiology reporting. To further explore this possibility, we surveyed radiologists and primary care physicians (PCPs) regarding their respective interpretations of report terminology. Methods A survey was distributed to radiologists and PCPs through an internal listserv. Respondents were asked to provide an interpretation of the statistical likelihood of the presence of metastatic disease based upon the terminology used within a hypothetical radiology report. Ten common modifying terms were evaluated. Potential responses for the statistical likelihoods included 0%-25%, 26%-50%, 51%-75%, 76%-99%, and 100%. Differences between the groups were evaluated using either a χ2 test or Fisher exact test, as appropriate. Results The phrases “diagnostic for metastatic disease” and “represents metastatic disease” were selected by a high percentage of both groups as conferring a 100% likelihood of “true metastatic disease.” The phrases “cannot exclude metastatic disease” and “may represent metastatic disease” were selected by a high proportion of both groups as conferring a 0% likelihood of “true metastatic disease.” Radiologists assigned a higher statistical likelihood to the terms “diagnostic for metastatic disease” (P = 016), “represents metastatic disease” (P = 004), “suspicious for metastatic disease” (P = 04), “consistent with metastatic disease” (P < 0001), and “compatible with metastatic disease” (P = 003). Conclusion A qualitative agreement among radiologists and PCPs exists concerning the significance of the evaluated terminology, although radiologists assigned a higher statistical likelihood than PCPs for several phrases.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 2715375
  • Author List

  • Gunn AJ; Tuttle MC; Flores EJ; Mangano MD; Bennett SE; Sahani DV; Choy G; Boland GW
  • Start Page

  • 1525
  • End Page

  • 1529.e1
  • Volume

  • 13
  • Issue

  • 12