The effects of misinterpretation of an artefact on multidetector row CT scans in children

Du Plessis A.-M. ; Theron S. ; Andronikou S. (2009)


Background: Artefacts reflect problems with radiographic technique rather than true pathology. These may be misinterpreted as pathology with serious consequences. An artefact caused such problems in one paediatric imaging department. Objective: To determine the incidence, and consequences of misinterpretation, of a CT artefact in a paediatric imaging department. Materials and methods: A retrospective review of images and reports of paediatric CT scans over a set period with a known artefact was performed. Reports were correlated with reviewers' evaluation of the presence of artefact and reviewed for correct identification of artefact, misinterpretation as pathology, and action taken as a result. Results: A total of 74 CT scans had been performed over the study period and an artefact detected by reviewers on 32 (43%). Six (18.75%) of these were misinterpreted as pathology, of which three (9.4%) were reported as tuberculous granulomas, two (6.2%) as haemorrhages and one (3.1%) as an unknown hyperdensity. Two patients (6.2%) had subsequent MRI studies performed, and treatment for tuberculosis was continued in one patient (3.1%). Conclusion: No initial report identified the artefact. One-fifth of the scans with the artefact were misinterpreted as pathology and half of these misinterpretations led to further action. Artefacts result in false diagnoses and unnecessary investigations; vigilance is needed. © 2008 Springer-Verlag.

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