MRI Incidental Findings


Most research MRI scans are not reviewed by a doctor to check for abnormalities.
Do not participate in research if you are hoping medical questions will be answered by the MRI.

(If the scans are routinely reviewed by a doctor, this information will be in the consent form you sign to participate in research, please ask study personnel who are consenting you for more information.)

Research MRI scans are designed to answer research questions, not examine you medically. Research MRI scans are not a substitute for one a doctor would order. It may not show problems that would be picked up by a medical MRI scan. However, if we believe that we have found a medical problem in your MRI scan, we will ask a doctor who is trained in the reading of MRI scans, a radiologist, to help us review the images.

We call unexpected abnormalities seen on research MRI scans “Incidental Findings”. Incidental Findings may be discovered by MRI personnel during the scan or after the scan by study personnel when the scan data is being analyzed. The Study Principal Investigator, Radiologist or medical collaborator will then disclose and discuss the finding with you. These findings may or may not require medical follow-up.

    • Some findings are normal variations of anatomy or benign medical findings that are not harmful at all. Your anatomy may just be slightly different from most people. Study personnel may still disclose these findings to you as they may be noted on future scans.
    • Some findings may require medical follow up and medical treatment. These findings and the recommended follow-up and/or treatment will be disclosed to you as well as your doctor. If you do not have a doctor then this information can be sent to a walk-in clinic or UBC Student Health.



Standard Operating Procedure

Download: SOP 4.4 Incidental FindingsSOP 4.4_Appendix 1_Incidental Finding Workflow Chart