Study-specific report templates help radiologists provide more information

Creating a specific report template for chest CT angiographic (CTA) examinations for suspected pulmonary embolism (PE) helps radiologists provide clinicians with more information, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers from the department of radiology at the University of Chicago created a study-specific reporting template for chest CTA examinations for suspected PE in an attempt to decrease variation in in their radiology reports.

Previously, the authors explained, they had simply used a standard chest CT template when interpreting chest CTA examinations for suspected PE. “We hypothesized that completeness of chest CTA reports for suspected PE would increase after the inception of a disease-specific report template,” wrote lead author Jonathan H. Chung, MD, and colleagues.

To test the template’s effectiveness, the authors studied data from before and after implementation. Before implementation, more than 69 percent of chest CTA examinations for suspected PE were deemed “complete.” After implementation, more than 96 percent of chest CTA examinations for suspected PE were complete.

“Each field of the template acts as a reminder to evaluate a certain imaging finding or to include a pertinent measurement,” the authors wrote. “Structured templates are particularly powerful in enacting change if they load automatically rather than requiring a radiologist to select the correct and desirable template from a list.”

The authors also created a “tracking tabulation software” called PE Tracker to confirm the rising utilization of these examinations was appropriate. The software revealed a positivity rate of 14.5 percent, which Chung et al. found to be “reassuring.” Similar research in the past had reported a positivity rate in the range of 4 to 10 percent.