In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Peter Libby, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, discusses the benefits versus the risks and costs of medical procedures like CT scans. In particular, he addresses the issue of incidentalomas, which occur when “medical scans pick up incidental findings that may be benign, leading to complications that make an otherwise healthy person ill.”
Dr. Libby writes, “While contemporary imaging modalities offer powerful and much needed tools for diagnosis and management when appropriately deployed, we should bear in mind the potential risks they entail if used indiscriminately.”
The problems created by incidentalomas is one area where you really need an expert: your radiologist.
This is what radiologists do – they don’t merely detect findings on CT scans, but also attach significance (or insignificance) to each finding.
When all your training and all your experience is in CT scans and their findings, you become pretty good at telling incidentalomas from true problems which need more investigation. Not perfect, of course, but pretty darn good.