Structured reports for brain, spinal MRI improve care for MS patients

Recent research has shown the benefits of streamlining, standardizing and simplifying communication between radiologists and specialists. Structured reports (SR) can produce more patient-centered care. They can also increase the clinical impact of radiology.

A recent retrospective study of brain and spinal MRI of patients suspected or known to have multiple sclerosis showed that the introduction of a structured reporting template produced reports with more adequate information for clinical decision making.

The team—led by Francesco Alessandrino with the department of neuroradiology at the C. Mondino National Neurological Institute in Pavia, Italy—published its findings online Jan. 4 in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

“SR may help neurologists to evaluate MRI reports,” Alessandrino and colleagues wrote. “In particular, SR could facilitate communication of MRI findings in MS, supporting clinicians with any level of experience in medical or therapeutic decisions in MS fields. Additionally, if MR images are not available, SR could help the neurologist save time without missing relevant clinical information.”

The team provided 69 reports (32 structured and 37 nonstructured) and associated images to three neurologists who evaluated them for lesion load, presence of sufficient information for clinical decision making and a necessity to review MR images for clinical decision making.

The neurologists were better able to understand lesion load in the SR. For two of the three, the SR had enough information for a clinical decision, while only one found NSR sufficient to reach a conclusion.

Though limited as a single-center retrospective study, the researchers’ findings showed important advantages to SR. The team also called for more extensive, multi-center research to be done.