The prevalence and implications of incidental findings on ED abdominal CT scans

Am J Emerg Med. 2001 Oct;19(6):479-81. doi: 10.1053/ajem.2001.27137.


We reviewed reports from 321 consecutive emergency department (ED) noncontrast, helical "renal stone" abdominal CT scans obtained at a single medical center between April 1996 to June 1997 for incidental findings. Incidental findings were common (45% of scans), and approximately half were rated of "moderate" or "serious" concern by 2 independent reviewers (kappa = 0.72). ED records indicated that only 21% of incidental findings were documented, and only 11 (18%) of cases with findings of "moderate/severe" concern had evidence of follow-up on hospital chart review. Although work-up of these 11 cases did not yield any serious diagnoses, many potentially serious incidental findings without follow-up remain worrisome.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / pathology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Colic / diagnosis*
  • Colic / pathology
  • Diagnostic Errors*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Female
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Diseases / pathology
  • Male
  • Medical Audit
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods*