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Study shows radiologists have trouble detecting hernias

Patients in North Carolina hospitals may think that CT scans and MRIs are capable of detecting medical conditions with pinpoint accuracy. In fact, these diagnostic testing methods are not always accurate, and communication between doctors and radiologists may greatly affect test results. At the 2016 Americas Hernia Society annual meeting, a hernia specialist talked about why she did not trust radiologists to diagnose hernias.

According to her, radiologists do not have a good track record for diagnosing both occult and palpable hernias. A study of 159 radiology reports for patients with inguinal hernia showed that occult hernias were diagnosed accurately just 7 percent of the time when a CT scan was used and 33 percent of the time when an MRI was used. CT scans accurately diagnosed palpable hernias with 25 percent accuracy, and MRIs detected palpable hernias with 41 percent accuracy.

Though MRIs are much more reliable than CT scans, many doctors cannot get approval for an MRI from insurance companies when patients do not show obvious signs of an inguinal hernia. If a patient only has approval for a CT scan, the patient's doctor may be able to get better imaging from the radiologist by communicating with the radiologist about their hernia suspicions. Explicit instructions about how to position a patient during imaging could improve the accuracy of a CT scan.

When a doctor does not order the appropriate tests for a patient, some conditions may not be detected in a timely manner. A patient who has been harmed by such a failure to diagnose might want to meet with a medical malpractice attorney and discuss how best to proceed.

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