Incidental Findings

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.


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Aim & Goals

The Incidental Findings Committee aims to provide general guidance on 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.

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

The goals of the Incidental Findings Committee are:
  • To reduce risk to patients from additional unnecessary examinations, including the risks of radiation and risks associated with interventional procedures;
  • To limit the costs of managing incidental findings to patients and the health care system;
  • To synthesize the available evidence and expert clinical experience to arrive at specific recommendations for management, considering both the benefits of follow-up testing and potential harms to patient health outcomes;
  • To provide guidance to radiologists who are concerned about the risk for litigation for missing incidental findings that later prove to be clinically important; and
  • To help focus research efforts to lead to an evidence-based approach to incidental findings.


Incidental Findings Publications

The ACR Incidental Findings publications include important considerations for specific patient populations that should be taken into account prior to application.

New Topics Under Development

Topics in Development

Pineal incidental findings

Fatty liver

Parathyroid lesions

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