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DOI: 10.3390/healthcare12050511; PMCID: PMC10931429


Diagnosis of necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) relies heavily on imaging, but uncertainty in the language used in imaging reports can result in ambiguity, miscommunication, and potential diagnostic errors. To determine the degree of uncertainty in reporting imaging findings for NEC, we conducted a secondary analysis of the data from a previously completed pilot diagnostic randomized controlled trial (2019-2020). The study population comprised sixteen preterm infants with suspected NEC randomized to abdominal radiographs (AXRs) or AXR + bowel ultrasound (BUS). The level of uncertainty was determined using a four-point Likert scale. Overall, we reviewed radiology reports of 113 AXR and 24 BUS from sixteen preterm infants with NEC concern. The BUS reports showed less uncertainty for reporting pneumatosis, portal venous gas, and free air compared to AXR reports (pneumatosis: 1 [1-1.75) vs. 3 [2-3], p < 0.0001; portal venous gas: 1 [1-1] vs. 1 [1-1], p = 0.02; free air: 1 [1-1] vs. 2 [1-3], p < 0.0001). In conclusion, we found that BUS reports have a lower degree of uncertainty in reporting imaging findings of NEC compared to AXR reports. Whether the lower degree of uncertainty of BUS reports positively impacts clinical decision making in infants with possible NEC remains unknown.

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Healthcare (Basel)






diagnostic certainty; language; necrotizing enterocolitis; radiography; radiology report; ultrasound; uncertainty


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