Radiology In Plain English radiology reports explained

What Is A Chronic Finding On Imaging?

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The phrase chronic finding is sometimes used by radiologists to indicate that a finding on an imaging test has been present for some time.  This may mean that a finding noted was present on a prior exam that you may have had.  Alternatively, this may mean that based on the appearance, the radiologist believes the finding to be chronic.

A chronic finding on an imaging test is not always benign or something that can be ignored.  For example, a patient receiving treatment for cancer can have some cancer left over that hasn’t changed.  This will be a chronic finding.  A patient with an aneurysm that is slowly growing is a chronic finding as well but may need treatment.

An example of a benign chronic finding  is a bone fragment from a broken bone you may have had a long time ago.  The bone fragment will look chronic on an X-ray and be described as a chronic finding.  Other chronic benign findings may be calcifications in organs like the spleen and liver.  This can be a result of old infection that healed.  These don’t require any treatment in most cases.

Some radiologists in the impression section of a report will provide the most important findings.  They will than provide a statement saying something like chronic findings above in the body of the report.  This usually means that the radiologist feels those chronic findings have been on prior tests and have not changed.  Often, they are not something that is causing symptoms or needs to be treated immediately.  They don’t want to repeat this and be more concise.

Chronic findings at times do need attention.  Sometimes a chronic finding can change from one exam to another.  An example is that of a cancer patient who develops a recurrence in the lymph nodes which enlarge.  A tumor in the liver that starts growing.  An aneurysm that grows from one exam to the other.  Usually the radiologist will emphasize in the impression of the report that a chronic finding seen on prior exams has changed and may need attention.

The term chronic finding in a radiology report can mean different things.  Sometimes it’s benign and can be safely ignored.  Other times, it’s something that needs to be watched carefully.   Occasionally, a chronic finding may need attention and treatment.  The radiologist will emphasize those chronic finding that are important in the report.  Your clinical doctor will best know how to use the information from a radiology report since they know your complete history.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended as, nor should it be considered a substitute for, professional medical advice. Do not use the information on this website for diagnosing or treating any medical or health condition. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider.

About the author

A. Mendelson, MD
Radiology In Plain English radiology reports explained