Structured reporting for follow-up multiple sclerosis MRI significantly reduces interpretation times

Adopting structured reporting for follow-up multiple sclerosis MR imaging can help to significantly reduce interpretation times.

That’s according to a new investigation out of the Cleveland Clinic, highlighted Friday in Academic Radiology. Previous analyses have logged mixed results when using this approach. But after testing the practice over a five-year period, imaging experts from the noted Ohio institution logged notable drops in mean and median reading times. 

“After the implementation of [structured reporting] for MS follow-up MRI at our institution, interpretation times significantly decreased despite the increased number of images with some of the examinations due to the adoption of 3D protocols,” Jonathan Lee, MD, with the clinic’s Imaging Institute, and colleagues wrote Aug. 28, later adding that the change may also improve radiologist efficiency.

MRI serves as an essential tool for monitoring this disease of the central nervous system. Yet, there isn’t clear consensus on the “appropriate prose” to use in follow-up reports, with wide variation in details—such as lesion count or location—from one radiologist to the next. To remedy this, Lee and colleagues adopted the reporting template used by MS PATHS (Partners Advancing Technology and Health Solutions), a network of hospitals working to address this issue. The form include info such as new lesions, or T2 burden of disease.

After adoption, the research team recorded interpretation times over a five-year period, before and after the transition to structured reporting, concluding in 2019. They also incorporated a control group of patients with intracranial masses but no MS, and monitored reading times for both 2D and 3D MRI protocols.

Bottom line: Mean and median interpretation went from 11 and 8 minutes, respectively, down to 8.5 and 6 minutes with structured reporting. They also went down for non-MS patients, Lee et al. noted, but further analysis found the reporting change to be more impactful for MS cases. And 2D protocols took slightly longer than the 3D variety.

“While the neuroradiologists at our institution were initially reluctant to change their practice style, this notably decreased dictation time rapidly led to increased and uniform acceptance of SR within our group,” Lee and colleagues concluded.

Read more of their findings in Academic Radiology here.