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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Incidental findings on MRI scans of patients presenting with audiovestibular symptoms

Vasileios Papanikolaou12*, Mohammad H Khan3 and Ivan J Keogh12

Author Affiliations

1 Academic Department of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland

2 Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Galway University Hospitals, Galway, Ireland

3 Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery, Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

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BMC Ear, Nose and Throat Disorders 2010, 10:6  doi:10.1186/1472-6815-10-6

Published: 7 June 2010

Abstract

Background

The evaluation of patients presenting with audiovestibular symptoms usually includes MRI of the internal auditory meatus, the cerebellopontine angle and the brain. A significant percentage of these scans will present unexpected, incidental findings, which could have important clinical significance.

Objective

To determine the frequency and clinical significance of incidental findings on MRI scans of patients with audiovestibular symptoms.

Materials and methods

A retrospective analysis of 200 serial MRI scans.

Results

Gender distribution: equal. Age range: 17-82 years. One-hundred and four scans (52%) were normal and 1 scan (0.5%) demonstrated a unilateral vestibular schwannoma. Ninety-five scans (47.5%) demonstrated incidental findings. Sixty-six of these (33%) were considered of ishaemic origin and did not require further action. Five (2.5%) scans demonstrated significant findings which warranted appropriate referral; Two Gliomas (1%), 2 cases of extensive White Matter Lesions (1%), 1 lipoma (0.5%). The remaining scans demonstrated various other findings.

Conclusion

Investigation of patients with audiovestibular symptoms with MRI scans revealed incidental findings in a significant percentage (47.5%). The majority of these findings were benign warranting no further action and only 2.5% required further referral. It is the responsibility of the referring Otolaryngologist to be aware of these findings, to be able to assess their significance, to inform the patient and if needed to refer for further evaluation.