What Does No Acute Findings Mean?
No acute findings means that there is nothing on the scan that indicates a new or recently developed condition or abnormality. Radiologists use this on all types of scans from X-rays all the way to advanced imaging like MRI. This is often communicated in the impression or conclusion section.
Medical meaning of no acute findings
No acute findings means there is nothing on the scan that is urgent, needs quick treatment, or is life threatening. This is a reassuring statement by the radiologist that he sees nothing on the scan that has developed recently or needs urgent treatment.
Does no acute findings mean a normal scan?
No acute findings does not mean that the scan is normal however. Often the radiologist will outline the more chronic important conditions in the conclusion section. For example, someone with widespread cancer may have no acute findings. There is nothing new as we have known about the cancer for a long time. This patient with widespread cancer has not developed a new condition like a pneumonia, a clot or broken bone.
Even healthier patients can have no acute findings but may have important chronic findings. These are typically conditions and abnormalities which have been present for a long time. Some are important whereas others can be ignored.
Examples of chronic findings on a scan
Chronic finding on a scan with no acute findings can be many. An example would be blood vessel calcifications which are related to aging and hardening of blood vessels. This develops over long periods of time. Another example would be an enlarged prostate gland which also develops over long periods of time. Scarring in the lung is a chronic finding.
No acute intracranial findings
Some reports will go into more depth about no acute findings being present. For example, radiologists may say there are no acute intracranial findings. This means we see nothing inside the head on a head CT which is acute. Examples of acute findings would be a bleed, a stroke, a mass or edema.
No acute intrathoracic findings
Other examples would be no acute intrathoracic findings. This indicates we see nothing in the chest that is an acute abnormality. Acute findings in the chest can be a pneumonia, blood clot, mass, infarct to name a few.
No acute intra-abdominal findings
No acute intra-abdominal findings is used to communicate the lack of acute findings in the abdomen. There are many findings and conditions which can be acute in the abdomen. Examples would be bleeding, appendicitis, diverticulitis, abscess to name a few.
When there are acute findings on an imaging exam, the radiologist will state the diagnosis and if any follow up is needed. We will not usually say there is an acute finding present. No acute findings is mostly used when we don’t see anything acute on a scan.
No acute findings does not mean all is well in some cases
Its also important to remember that the lack of acute findings on a scan does not mean that everything is ok. Some imaging tests do not detect all abnormalities. For example, a CT may not identify a gallbladder condition whereas an ultrasound will. a chest X-ray may be normal whereas a CT identifies a pneumonia or mass.
Some conditions are only identified with blood work and your doctors examination. It is therefore important to remember that no acute findings on an imaging test does not necessarily mean all is fine and you are not sick.