Unanticipated findings in pediatric neuroimaging research: prevalence of abnormalities and process for reporting and clinical follow-up

Brain Imaging Behav. 2015 Mar;9(1):32-42. doi: 10.1007/s11682-014-9327-7.


MRI is a powerful tool to evaluate brain anatomy and function in normal children and its use in research applications has steadily increased. As imaging technology improves, and sensitivity to brain pathology increases, unanticipated (and potentially clinically important) findings on research neuroimaging studies will also increase. We evaluated the prevalence and type of unanticipated and potentially clinically significant imaging findings in a group of 114 normal children enrolled in an ongoing MRI imaging study of normal brain development for the Pediatric Functional Neuroimaging Research Network. Brain imaging findings were classified using standardized scales developed for the Network and findings were reported to participants and their primary healthcare provider according to a standard reporting pathway. Classification scales, reporting processes, and illustrated examples of findings are included and discussed. Unanticipated imaging findings were identified in approximately 12.5 % of children participating in this study.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain / abnormalities
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Brain Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Brain Diseases / pathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disclosure / standards*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Reference Values