Of No Clinical Significance – What Does it Mean?

Some radiologists will use the phrase: this finding is of no clinical significance.  They mean to say that the finding is benign and they do not think it has any importance.  They describe it because it appears abnormal but want to make sure there is no further testing or workup. This can be used throughout the body and on multiple imaging tests.

What is a finding of no clinical concern?

A finding of no clinical significance is common on imaging studies.  Many abnormalities such as cysts, certain masses, calcifications and many other abnormalities are of no clinical significance.  Stable findings over long periods of time are often of no clinical significance.  Abnormalities which have been biopsied and are benign can be of no clinical significance.

How does the radiologist know a finding is of no clinical concern?

The radiologist will often use his judgement along with clinical information to reach a conclusion that a finding is of no clinical significance.   He may use published guidelines, prior exams, clinical information gathered from the medical chart to reach the conclusion that a finding is of no clinical concern.

What are some examples of findings of no clinical concern?

Many cysts are an example of a finding which is of no clinical significance.  They are benign in most cases and can be safety ignored with some exceptions.  For example, kidney and liver cysts are very common and can be safety ignored assuming they have no concerning features on imaging.  Many ovarian cysts can be ignored in reproductive age women.

Many lung nodules or spots can be ignored or have no clinical significance if they have been stable over years, or appear calcified.  Prior imaging tests are most helpful to show that a lung nodule is stable over many years.  Calcified nodules are called granulomas and are benign.  They are a result of prior infection in the lungs.

Some masses which appear benign, have been stable over long periods of time or previously biopsied are of no clinical concern.  For example, a mass called a focal nodular hyperplasia or a hemangioma in the liver are usually not treated and are benign.  They may appear large and mimic other more aggressive tumors.  Treating focal nodular hyperplasia or hemangioma with major liver surgery is usually not indicated.

Calcifications in organs such as the liver and spleen can be numerous.  They are usually the result of prior infection and are of no clinical concern.  Small calcifications in the ovary are common and are of no clinical concern, particularly if not associated with a mass.  Calcifications in the buttock regions may be from prior shots and are of no clinical concern.

A finding of no clinical concern is therefore something that is entirely benign.  It is a finding which the radiologist has determined needs no further workup or Followup.  Further testing may also have harm so the radiologist states this in the report to make sure this does not happen.  A finding of no clinical concern is one which should essentially be ignored by the referring doctor.  It is there in case someone looks and wonders what it is, or why the radiologist did not mention it.


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