Association Between Radiologic Incidental Findings and Resource Utilization in Patients Admitted With Chest Pain in an Urban Medical Center

J Hosp Med. 2017 May;12(5):323-328. doi: 10.12788/jhm.2722.


Background: Increasing use of testing among hospitalized patients has resulted in an increase in radiologic incidental findings (IFs), which challenge the provision of high-value care in the hospital setting.

Objective: To understand impact of radiologic incidental findings on resource utilization in patients hospitalized with chest pain.

Design: Retrospective observational cross sectional study.

Setting: Academic medical center.

Participants: Adult patients hospitalized with principal diagnosis of chest pain.

Measurements: Demographic, imaging, and length of stay (LOS) data were abstracted from the medical charts. We used multiple logistic regression to evaluate factors associated with radiologic IFs and negative binomial regression to evaluate the association between radiologic IFs and LOS.

Results: 1811 consecutive admissions with chest pain were analyzed retrospectively over a period of 24 months; 376 patients were included in the study after exclusion criteria were applied and readmissions removed. Of these, 197 patients (52%) had 364 new radiologic IFs on imaging; most IFs were of minor (50%) or moderate clinical significance (42%), with only 7% of major significance. Odds of finding radiologic IFs increased with age (adjusted odds ratio, 1.04; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.01-1.06) and was associated with a 26% increase in LOS (adjusted incidence rate ratio, 1.26; 95% CI, 1.07-1.49).

Conclusion: Radiologic IFs were very common among patients hospitalized with chest pain of suspected cardiac origin and independently associated with an increase in the LOS. Interventions to address radiologic IFs may reduce LOS and, thereby, support high-value care. Journal of Hospital Medicine 2017;12:323-328.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chest Pain / diagnostic imaging*
  • Chest Pain / therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Resources / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Resources / trends
  • Hospitals, Urban / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hospitals, Urban / trends
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Admission* / trends
  • Radiology Department, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiology Department, Hospital / trends
  • Retrospective Studies