Is A Long Radiology Report Better?
Short answer is not necessarily and it depends. Definition of a long report is difficult to define because it depends who you ask. But generally, one that covers 2-3 pages or has multiple paragraphs is long in my opinion.
While a long report is often appropriate for a complex case or one in which there are many items to comment on, sometimes long reports can be generated for seemingly common problems or even normal or close to normal reports.
Much of this depends on the radiologist. A long wordy report that doesn’t get to the point and describes everything in great detail is not necessarily a good one. Especially for your doctor to read and make use of. A short concise report that gets to the point and is pertinent to your problem is often preferred.
The entire point of the radiology report is to convey pertinent and relevant information about your imaging test to your doctor. One that includes a lot of non relevant information and comments on issues that are not actionable is often not helpful. A report that describes everything but doesn’t provide a diagnosis does not help.
Therefore, to the untrained eye, a long radiology report may seem like it provides more information and will be more helpful, but this is clearly not the case. Multi page reports can in fact do the opposite and confuse the referring physician. Some of the jargon the radiologist uses may not be understood by your referring physician.
A long wordy report can fail to get to the point or offer so much detail that is not useful to your clinical doctor. Recently, I’ve seen more radiologists use structured reporting. This involves short comments on organs like liver:normal, pancreas:normal, gallbladder:full of stones, etc.
This helps the referring doctor quickly get to the information he needs to treat you. It avoids having to read through wordy paragraphs, often full of radiology jargon that few understand. Technical descriptions of imaging findings and multiple precise measurements.
It is always possible to discuss a case with radiologist if the report is long, confusing or doesn’t get to the point. After all you had the test for a reason, and if the concern isn’t addressed then you can always try to get more information by talking to your doctor who can always talk to the radiologist.