Incidental Findings

What is an Incidental Finding?

An incidental finding, also known as an incidentaloma, may be defined as “an incidentally discovered mass or lesion, detected by CT, MRI, or other imaging modality performed for an unrelated reason.”

An increase in the utilization of cross-sectional imaging examinations over the past three decades, has led to a marked increase in the number of findings detected that are unrelated to the primary objectives of the examinations.


“What is the responsible use of information that nobody asked for?” (Fletcher and Pignone, 2008).

To provide general guidance for managing incidentally discovered masses, with the understanding that specific patient care will vary depending on each individual’s circumstances, the clinical environment, available resources, and the judgment of the practitioner.

The Incidental Findings Committee has developed through consensus a series of white papers to provide consistent management terminology and color coded flowcharts (or algorithms) to guide providers to action or surveillance of incidentally detected findings.


  • Reducing risks to patients from additional unnecessary examinations, including the risks of radiation and risks associated with interventional procedures;
  • Limiting the costs of managing incidental findings to patients and the health care system;
  • Achieving greater consistency in recognizing, reporting, and managing incidental findings, as a component of formal quality improvement efforts;
  • Providing guidance to radiologists who are concerned about the risk for litigation for missing incidental findings that later prove to be clinically important; and
  • Helping focus research efforts to lead to an evidence based approach to incidental findings.

Committees and Consensus Process

Committees are comprised of member radiologists and relevant consultant physicians.

Each Committee starts by defining the scope of its work, then staff conducts a literature search based on the committee’s outline. Incidental Finding recommendations are formulated by comments, discussions, and revision until committee reaches consensus. Recommendations are based on both available literature and personal expertise.

Once the recommendations are complete, the committee makes them easily applicable to daily radiology practice, using graphic aids when possible.

Incidental Findings White Papers

Additional Forms and Documents

Radiology Safety

Resources and recommendations to ensure the safe, efficient practice of radiology.

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Interventional Radiology Resources

Explain to hospital administrators, radiology group presidents and other decision makers the value of creating an in-house interventional radiology clinical practice.

Learn more