MRI May Show Nothing, Even If Patient is Injured

Just because an MRI shows nothing wrong doesn’t mean the test is right.

So patients who are in significant pain should seek a second opinion regardless of whether an initial magnetic resonance imaging test indicates they are fine, physicians tell the New York Times in an article that should be of interest to lawyers who work with medical evidence.

Substantial differences both in the quality of the machines used to perform the MRIs and in the expertise of the radiologists who read the MRIs can lead to vastly different test results, the experts say. And, because doctors who receive test results see only a written report, they may not know any more than the patient does about whether the patient’s MRI was at the upper or the lower end of the quality scale.

“It’s a huge problem,” Dr. William Black tells the newspaper. He is a professor of radiology and community and family medicine at Dartmouth Medical School.

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