European societies offer roadmap for clear nuclear cardiology reporting

A good picture may be worth a thousand words, but good image reporting helps cardiologists treat their patients optimally. A committee of European nuclear imaging and cardiovascular imaging professionals offered a series of recommendations on how to make that possible.

The committee combined the expertise of the European Association of Nuclear Medicine and the European Association of Cardiovascular Imaging to create a document outlining what must, should and may be incorporated into image reporting. Elin Trägårdh, MD, PhD, of Skåne University Hospital in Lund, Sweden, and colleagues examined all parts of imaging reports to provide a succinct overview of their recommendations.

The strongest recommendations involved the general language. They suggested simple, nontechnical writing, avoidance or limitation of abbreviations or technical information unnecessary for referring physicians, replacing qualitative descriptions with quantified data and minimization of protective expressions such as “is likely” or “cannot be excluded.”

Doubts about the clinical implication of interpretation were considered to be a must for inclusion. They considered clinically relevant information important for reporting, but not technically irrelevant details, along with use of widely recognized and approved nuclear medicine and cardiology terminology.

Trägårdh et al noted that structured reports should incorporate sections on demographics, clinical indications, tracer administration and image acquisition, findings and conclusions. They suggested reports also include signatures and date. Particularly, under the findings section, they defined important descriptions to use for a number of nuclear imaging modalities, including but not limited to myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI), equilibrium radionuclide ventriculography, and F-fluoro-deoxyglucose combined with MPI and regional perfusion from SPECT, providing a series of questions to help generate clear data.

Further, they emphasized that images included in the report must “illustrate and support the conclusion.”

They also made recommendations to define differences between preliminary and final reports and oral communications.

Emphasizing the need for clarity, Trägårdh et al wrote, “In a way, nuclear cardiology studies undergo two interpretations: the first one being performed by the physicians who make a report based on the analyses and interpretation of the images, stress data, etc. The second is the interpretation made by the physician who reads the report and from this reading draws his or her conclusions for further clinical action.

“Guidelines on reporting imaging procedures in nuclear cardiology, to optimize the communication of the information from reporter to reader, are essential.”

These recommendations were published in the March issue of European Heart Journal: Cardiovascular Imaging.