As you know, X-rays, CTs, MRIs, and other radiology scans allow doctors to see inside your body clearly. When you get the radiology report, there are several medical terms that may be hard to understand.
“Unremarkable” and “Grossly unremarkable” are two common medical terms used in radiology reports to conclude the medical assessments, which are an important part of the diagnosis and treatment.
What do they mean? “Unremarkable” and “Grossly unremarkable” might sound strange, but in medical language, they’re actually good news in terms of the scan you did.
“Unremarkable” means that everything looks normal on your scan. There’s nothing unusual or any noticeable abnormalities found in your imaging. Similarly, “grossly unremarkable” implies that no abnormality or nothing obvious was observed.
What Does a Radiology Report General Consist of?
A radiologist is a doctor who proceeds the medical imaging for you per your doctor’s request, and also writes a report after examining the images. This report will also be sent to your doctor later.
The report contains typically contains the following 4 items:
- A description of the procedure: This section explains the type of imaging done and its specifics. For instance, it might say like “MRI Liver w/o Contrast” or “CT Brain w/o Contrast” which means an MRI scan of the Liver or CT scan of the Brain was performed without the use of a contrast dye. “w/o Contrast” is short for “without Contrast”. Contrast is a special dye that can be used in some imaging procedures to help highlight certain areas of the body. Saying “without Contrast” means that this dye was not used during this particular imaging procedure.
- Patient history: This part of the report provides the background information about the patient’s health that led to the need for imaging. It may also mention any previous scans.
- Findings or results: Findings or results is the main part of the report where the radiologist describes what they saw in the images. It often contains medical terms, like “unremarkable” or “grossly unremarkable”.
- Recommendations: The report usually ends with suggestions for the next steps, if there is an abnormal finding in your imaging, the radiologist will recommend doing some further testing accordingly.
Why Use “Unremarkable” Instead of “Normal”
When a radiologist reads your imaging scans, they’ll look for any noticeable indications of abnormalities carefully. If they say the results are “unremarkable” after examination, it means everything looks as it should, and there are no signs of anything abnormal or any hints of disease in the organ or structure area you’re scanning.
Although “unremarkable” can be understood as “normal”, they’re different.
For example, when a radiologist says that the Liver or Brain is “unremarkable” in CT or MRI reports, it means they didn’t spot anything unusual in the images However, this doesn’t guarantee that everything is perfectly fine in the Liver or Brain.
As you can understand, imaging scans can’t identify every abnormality, and there could be issues with how the Liver or Brain works or its structure that the scan couldn’t pick up. For example, a blood test may show an abnormality. So, even though the scan looks normal, it doesn’t always mean everything is completely okay.
What’s the Different Between “Unremarkable” and “Grossly Unremarkable”?
Sometimes in radiology reports, you might see the term “grossly unremarkable” instead of just “unremarkable.” “Grossly unremarkable” means that nothing significant findings were seen, but the reports are not clear enough as the scan method might be limited to show every detail of the organ or structure.
For example, while a Brain CT scan can provide valuable information about the brain’s structure, it might not be as effective in detecting certain types of brain conditions (like early stages of stroke, a detailed view of the brain’s soft tissue) as other tests, like an MRI.
So, if a CT scan report says the brain is “grossly unremarkable,” it indicates that nothing obviously unusual was visible, but it doesn’t rule out the possibility of issues that the CT scan couldn’t detect.
In short, “grossly unremarkable” is a way for the radiologist reading the scan to say that they didn’t see any abnormalities in the images. However, it doesn’t mean that everything is definitely normal, as the scan might not reveal every detail.
In some cases, after looking at your results as “Grossly unremarkable” in the radiology report, your doctor may suggest you have more tests or different types of imaging scans (for instance, do an MRI test for the above example) to see or know your organs or structure exactly.
Medical imaging often uses terms that might be confusing, such as “unremarkable” or “grossly unremarkable”. These terms, generally mean that nothing unusual or concerning was found in the images. These terms uses can change depending on radiologists preferences and the common practices in different areas.
However, it’s important to remember that these terms don’t guarantee that everything is perfectly fine. Imaging scans can’t detect every possible abnormality as they just examine from imaging.
That’s why, even if your report says “unremarkable” or “grossly unremarkable,” your doctor might still recommend further tests or more advanced scans to get a more complete understanding of your health. This doesn’t mean that your initial results are unclear, but rather that your doctor wants to be thorough and make sure nothing is missed.
So, when you receive a radiology report, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor to explain anything you don’t understand. They’re there to help you navigate through the medical jargon and understand what the results mean for your health.