Incidental Head and Neck Findings on MRI in Young Healthy Volunteers: Prevalence and Clinical Implications
SUMMARY: We determined the prevalence and clinical relevance of incidental brain and head and neck findings in young healthy volunteers with MR imaging. We retrospectively analyzed the MR images obtained from 203 healthy young adult volunteers (mean age, 21.9 years; range, 18–35 years). The prevalence of the categories of findings (no referral necessary, routine referral, urgent referral, and immediate referral) was scored by a head and neck radiologist or neuroradiologist. We found a high prevalence of incidental brain and head and neck abnormalities (9.4% and 36.7%, respectively); 4.4% of the brain findings and 5.5% of the head and neck findings were classified as in need of referral. Only 1 incidental finding classified as in need of referral (a skull lesion consistent with fibrous dysplasia) was actually referred at the time of the study (5.2%). These findings suggest that a high prevalence of incidental findings is common in healthy young volunteers, though the clinical implications are negligible.