Radiography students ace cranial CT training

March 24, 2005

U.K. radiographers scored nearly perfect scores on clinical assessments after receiving training in cranial CT reporting. The high assessment scores for the radiographers, who are referred to as technologists in the U.S., were comparable to interobserver reliability among radiologists, according to a study presented at the 2004 RSNA meeting.

U.K. radiographers scored nearly perfect scores on clinical assessments after receiving training in cranial CT reporting. The high assessment scores for the radiographers, who are referred to as technologists in the U.S., were comparable to interobserver reliability among radiologists, according to a study presented at the 2004 RSNA meeting.

The positive results suggest that radiographers can successfully engage in cranial CT reporting, easing radiology's increased workload from staff shortages, said researchers led by Barry Carver, senior postgraduate tutor at the School of Radiography, University of Wales, in Bangor, U.K.

The Cranial CT Reporting for Radiographers training module launched at the university tests the accuracy of students completing the training through two assessment methods: an objective structured clinical examination and a clinical portfolio. The second contained comments from mentor radiologists participating in the study.

The researchers had examined 23 students as of April 2004. All successfully passed the clinical examination without any errors that would have altered patient treatment.

After analyzing 4800 reports from the portfolios, the investigators reported that the radiographers had an accuracy rate of 97.2% compared with the mentor radiologists. Fewer than 1% of the disagreements would have changed patient treatment. Most changes to radiographer reports involved recommendations for follow-up scans such as MR or CT with contrast.

There has been a shortage of radiologists across the U.K. for some years, and developing the role of the radiographer is one way to address that shortage, Carver said.

The assessment and maintenance of competence is key to enlarging the radiographer's role, he said. The only way to accomplish this is to allow radiographers to take on a reporting role upon completing the training.

"Many radiographers currently are not allowed to do so because of departmental politics. Failing to use these trained members of the staff is a great shame," he said.

The results of the study demonstrate that radiographers have the ability to undertake the role, even if used only for second reporting.

"A second pair of eyes is often useful," Carver said.