Quantitative measures, interactivity on physician wish list for radiology reports

Many radiologists and oncologists believe that traditional radiology reporting should be improved to assist with the assessment of tumors, according to a study published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

Les R. Folio, DO, a radiologist at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center, and colleagues surveyed 109 oncologists and 28 radiologists about reporting methods and tumor quantification. A large majority of oncologists (87 percent) and radiologists (80 percent) who responded said they measure at least 1-5 tumors each week.

Overall, more than 65 percent of oncologists and more than 44 percent of radiologists responded that current radiology reports are insufficient for making tumor assessments. Folio and colleagues wrote that one thing hurting physicians is that radiology reporting appears to be living in the past.

“The most common form of radiologist report has not changed substantially since the first radiology report in 1896,” the authors wrote. “Reports remain text only and qualitative and contain a body of findings followed by an impression. Technology is available, however, for media-rich quantitative reporting that includes hyperlinks from measurements of specific lesions to the annotated image and tables and graphs of measurements over time.”

Quantitative, interactive reporting would be welcomed, the authors wrote, as would technology that allowed more communication between oncologists and radiologists. Three out of four oncologists answered that they would prefer multidisciplinary reading sessions as opposed to selecting and measuring target lesions on their own, without a radiologist’s opinion.

“These responses support collaboration or a system that enhances communication between the oncologists and radiologists when selecting and following target lesions,” the authors wrote.

In addition, when asked how they would like to have tumor measurements presented in radiologist reports, a majority of oncologists (more than 64 percent) and radiologists (more than 67 percent) chose hyperlinks that lead to annotated images. The least popular answer to that question was actually the way tumor measurements are traditionally presented today: written out in the text of the report.

Folio and his co-authors hoped their research could help lead to a change in how tumors are assessed in the radiology reporting of the future.

“These results should be useful in the design of future reporting systems that may include PACS-based semiautomated lesion segmentation, increased quantification with interactive reporting that is more media rich, and enhanced metadata management of lesions,” the authors wrote.