6.19.2010

UBC study offers ethical and cost-effective strategy for managing MRI incidental findings

The increasing number of incidental findings in brain imaging can be managed ethically and cost-effectively by screening study participants based on gender, age and family history, according to University of British Columbia researchers.

Incidental findings are anomalies discovered unexpectedly during research that utilizes brain imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain.

The UBC study, published online today the journal Value in Health, is the first economic analysis of current incidental finding management practices. More than 1,800 fMRI studies were published between 2002 and 2008.

Incidental findings that require clinical follow-up are detected in two to three percent of healthy participants in these studies. At an average of 10 participants per study, that is two to three percent of 18,000 volunteers.

Incidental findings that require clinical follow-up are detected in two to three percent of healthy participants in these studies. At an average of 10 participants per study, that is two to three percent of 18,000 volunteers.

Currently, protocols for handling incidental findings vary widely across institutions, ranging from costly, full clinical-grade imaging for all study participants before enrolment to “don’t look, don’t tell,” where brain images aren’t screened for anomalies.

source: University of British Columbia