One of the most important things you can do when you go get your radiology test is to bring in any old studies you may have had at other hospitals. Whether it’s an X-ray, mammogram, cat scan, MRI, etc. this is critical for the radiologist to reach the most accurate diagnosis.
The radiologist will use your old studies to see if there have been any changes. Whether a suspicious looking spot has been there before and is therefore nothing to worry about, You can see how bringing in an old exam can save you worry.
An old study can even save you from getting an invasive procedure. For example, say you have a spot on your lung that is 1.5 cm. Without an old study, the radiologist may recommend a biopsy to see if the spot is cancerous, If you have a 5 year old study that showed the spot was there and did not change, then a biopsy or other expensive and time consuming testing can be avoided.
It is especially critical to bring in prior studies you may have had if your undergoing some sort of treatment, and your doctor wants to see how effective it is. Often patients with cancer undergoing chemotherapy will have many serial scans to see how effective the therapy is and whether the cancer has come back.
You can see how important it is to dig up and get your old exams. Keep a written record of your old exams so you don’t forget. If you can’t get the old exams yourself, hospital staff where you are getting your test can help and request. It would be best to have them available the day of your exam, but sometimes this is not possible. Ideally, the radiologist would have the old studies available when interpreting your exam to give you the most accurate diagnosis. For a radiologist, being able to see the images of old studies is better than just reading old reports.