Projects per year
Design: Systematic review and meta-analyses.
Data sources: Citation searches of relevant articles and authors’ files in Medline and Embase (from inception to 25 April 2017).
Review methods: Eligible studies included prevalence and types of incidental findings detected among apparently asymptomatic adults undergoing MRI of the brain, thorax, abdomen, or brain and body. Data on study population and methods, prevalence and types of incidental findings, and final diagnoses were extracted. Pooled prevalence was estimated by random effects meta-analysis, and heterogeneity by τ2 statistics.
Main outcome measures: Prevalence of potentially serious incidental findings on MRI of the brain, thorax, abdomen, and brain and body.
Results: Of 5905 retrieved studies, 32 (0.5%) met the inclusion criteria (n=27 643 participants). Pooled prevalence of potentially serious incidental findings was 3.9% (95% confidence interval 0.4% to 27.1%) on brain and body MRI, 1.4% (1.0% to 2.1%) on brain MRI, 1.3% (0.2% to 8.1%) on thoracic MRI, and 1.9% (0.3% to 12.0%) on abdominal MRI. Pooled prevalence rose after including incidental findings of uncertain potential seriousness (12.8% (3.9% to 34.3%), 1.7% (1.1% to 2.6%), 3.0% (0.8% to 11.3%), and 4.5% (1.5% to 12.9%), respectively). There was generally substantial heterogeneity among included studies. About half the potentially serious incidental findings were suspected malignancies (brain, 0.6% (95% confidence interval 0.4% to 0.9%); thorax, 0.6% (0.1% to 3.1%); abdomen, 1.3% (0.2% to 9.3%); brain and body, 2.3% (0.3% to 15.4%)). There were few informative data on potential sources of between-study variation or factors associated with potentially serious incidental findings. Limited data suggested that relatively few potentially serious incidental findings had serious final diagnoses (48/234, 20.5%).
Conclusions: A substantial proportion of apparently asymptomatic adults will have potentially serious incidental findings on MRI, but little is known of their health consequences. Systematic, long term follow-up studies are needed to better inform on these consequences and the implications for policies on feedback of potentially serious incidental findings.
Systematic review registration: Prospero CRD42016029472.
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Potentially serious incidental findings on brain and body magnetic resonance imaging conducted among apparently healthy adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis
Gibson, L. (Creator), Paul, L. (Creator) & Sudlow, C. (Creator), Edinburgh DataShare, 22 Nov 2018
- Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences - Chair of Neurology and Clinical Epidemiology
- Edinburgh Neuroscience
- Deanery of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences - Personal Chair of Neurology and Clinical Epidemiology
- Usher Institute
- Centre for Medical Informatics
- Cerebrovascular Research Group
Person: Academic: Research Active