How to Create a Great Radiology Report

Radiographics. 2020 Oct;40(6):1658-1670. doi: 10.1148/rg.2020200020.


The radiology report represents the sum of a radiologist's highest level of synthesis and insight into a patient's condition. It is the most important product that radiologists generate to help direct patient care. Despite the self-evident importance of clear and effective radiology reporting, radiologists usually receive little or no formal reporting education during training. Instead, it is learned in a piecemeal and often indirect fashion through occasional correction and imitating the reports of other radiologists. The audience of the radiology report extends far beyond the ordering provider and includes patients and their families, medical support staff, subspecialty providers, other radiologists, and research interests. Creating a report that fulfills the needs of this diverse group is a formidable if not quixotic ambition. However, there are certain key principles to reporting the imaging findings, impression, and recommendations that serve as a guide and promote careful consideration about how reports are understood. The findings section should emphasize short, informative, and factual observations while avoiding inappropriate interpretation, excessive use of terms of perception, and redundancy. The impression is the thoughtful synthesis of the meaning of the findings leading to a diagnosis, a differential diagnosis, and management recommendations. Creating a clear and impactful impression allows radiologists to provide the highest level of clinical care and direction but takes time and effort beyond simply restating the findings. The impression should use language that is understandable, memorable, and actionable. Reporting skills require ongoing attention and must adapt to the evolving practice patterns and communication styles in medicine. ©RSNA, 2020.