Aim: To assess the impact on patient management of formal neuroradiology "second reading" of computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) images initially interpreted by general radiologists.
Materials and methods: Second opinion reports during the calendar year 2004 were compared with the original report and assessed for major or minor discrepancies. A major discrepancy was separated from a minor discrepancy whereby a change in opinion significantly affected patient management.
Results: There were 506 second opinions during 2004 given by three consultant neuroradiologists. Incomplete data were found in 141. Forty-one percent were CT images and the remainder MRI. The majority of second opinions were requested by neurologists. Most of the remaining referrals were from neurosurgeons or the primary radiologist. There was a 13% major and a 21% minor discrepancy rate. The remaining 66% were in complete agreement. There was a mixture of overcalls, misinterpretation, and undercalls. There were similar rates of minor and major discrepancies in both CT and MRI.
Conclusion: There is a significant major discrepancy rate between specialist neuroradiology second opinion and general radiologists. The benefit of a formal specialist second opinion service is clearly demonstrated; however, it is time-consuming.