Recognizing that imaging can sometimes produce unexpected or incidental findings that have consequences for patients and lead to further expensive and potentially harmful investigations, researchers find that clinically relevant incidental findings on chest radiographs in primary care adult patients with acute cough are uncommon.
In this companion article, researchers in the Netherlands analyze 2,823 chest radiographs from patients complaining of acute cough in 16 different European primary care networks and find that although incidental findings were reported in 19 percent of patients, only 3 percent of these patients had clinically relevant incidental findings, including lung nodules and shadows. Notably, the frequency of the reporting of incidental findings varied dramatically between the different primary care networks, ranging from 0 percent to 36 percent.
The authors assert these findings should inform decisions about the appropriate threshold for ordering chest radiographs in primary care, as well as guide clinicians in informing patients about the possibility of incidental findings.
Incidental Chest Radiographic Findings in Adults With Acute Cough
By Saskia van Vugt, MD, MSc, et al