Radiology technology is one of the biggest changes in healthcare in recent years. CT scans, MRI, and Ultrasound allow your doctor to see inside your body and get much more exact information than they ever could have in the past.
You also have more access to the results of these tests than people ever had in the past. While the myMANA portal doesn’t usually include radiology scans, some patient portals let you see doctors’ notes about your visit, often before you have a chance to talk with your healthcare team.
But understanding the information can still be a challenge. For example, what does it mean when your results are described as “unremarkable”?
The doctor who supervises imaging and reads the information will write up a report. The report is usually sent to the doctor who ordered the scan, and that doctor will share the information with you.
A radiologist’s report will contain a lot of information, often in technical terms that might not be completely clear to the patient.
The report will usually have a description of the procedure, such as “CT Head or Brain w/o Contrast” or “MRI Brain w/o Contrast Limited.” This tells the kind of imaging that took place and the details of the scan.
In the examples, this included a CT scan of the brain and an MRI of the brain. In both cases, the scans were done without contrast, which is a special substance that helps improve results in some cases.
The report will then usually give the history of the patient that led to the need for the exam. There might also be information about previous exams.
Next comes the findings, or results. These will be described with medical terminology that may not be familiar. You can always ask your doctor to explain the meanings of the terms being used. This section will usually end with recommendations, often for more testing.
In many cases, the results will be “normal” or “unremarkable.” This means that the scan did not show anything unusual or worrying. It’s good news.
“Normal” means that the result is exactly what the radiologist would expect to see in a healthy person.
“Unremarkable” can mean that there are some unusual features, but that they are not a source of concern. For example, the scan might show signs of changes that are expected in someone of the patient’s age. Or there might be a variation that is not unusual and doesn’t have any significance in the context.
Waiting to talk with your doctor about the results of an exam can be stressful and worrying. Don’t worry if you see “unremarkable,” though — that specifically means there is no reason to worry.