Worldwide study finds 30% of clinicians unaware of FDG-PET/CT reporting guidelines

Clinical reporting strategies for PET/CT imaging exams in the oncology setting vary widely, according to results of a worldwide survey of clinicians published in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine. Nearly half of respondents do not regularly adhere to established reporting guidelines.

“Broad variation in the PET/CT reporting strategies adopted for oncology studies and widespread lack of awareness of existing guidelines for PET/CT reporting are evident from responses to this survey, raising concerns as to whether reporting clinicians are optimally utilizing the complementary information from each modality,” wrote corresponding author Lutz S. Freudenberg, MD, with ZRN Rheinland in Germany, and colleagues.

A total of 242 medical professionals responded to a 28-question online survey asking for demographic and professional background information in addition to PET/CT quality and structure reporting questions. Two imaging experts with 20 years of PET/CT experience created the survey.

A majority (78 percent) of responses were from European specialists, followed by 11 percent from Asia, 5 percent from Africa and another 5 percent from the Americas. Responders were largely radiologists (99 people), followed by nuclear medicine specialists (51 people). Twenty-two percent were dual-board certified and 9 percent were either nuclear medicine or radiology residents.

In terms of reporting, 45 percent said they do not regularly adhere to the European Association of Nuclear Medicine (EANIM)/ Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) 2015 guidelines for 18F-FDG-PET/CT imaging. Thirty percent were unaware the guidelines existed. Additionally, a “significant number” (18 percent) claimed that no joint molecular and anatomical imaging report is created for clinical PET/CT imaging, the authors noted.

Freudenberg et al. suggested nuclear medicine and radiology training should educate its students on hybrid imaging reporting procedures since they are largely the groups driving such imaging. Until this happens, they stated, professional recommendations from experts may be beneficial to better local training and reporting.

“The results of this survey may help motivate us to reflect critically on our local practice and to consider potential adaptations to the way we report our imaging results,” the authors concluded. “As part of such community effort, it seems reasonable to ask for nuclear medicine and radiology associations to work more closely to clarify the existing ambiguities in professional imaging reporting.”