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Structured reporting of MRI of the shoulder – improvement of report quality?

  • Magnetic Resonance
  • Published:
European Radiology Aims and scope Submit manuscript



To evaluate the effect of structured reports (SRs) in comparison to non-structured narrative free text (NRs) shoulder MRI reports and potential effects of both types of reporting on completeness, readability, linguistic quality and referring surgeons’ satisfaction.


Thirty patients after trauma or with suspected degenerative changes of the shoulder were included in this study (2012–2015). All patients underwent shoulder MRI for further assessment and possible surgical planning. NRs were generated during clinical routine. Corresponding SRs were created using a dedicated template. All 60 reports were evaluated by two experienced orthopaedic shoulder surgeons using a questionnaire that included eight questions.


Eighty per cent of the SRs were fully complete without any missing key features whereas only 45% of the NRs were fully complete (p < 0.001). The extraction of information was regarded to be easy in 92% of the SRs and 63% of the NRs. The overall quality of the SRs was rated better than that of the NRs (p < 0.001).


Structured reporting of shoulder MRI improves the readability as well as the linguistic quality of radiological reports, and potentially leads to a higher satisfaction of referring physicians.

Key Points

Structured MRI reports of the shoulder improve readability.

Structured reporting facilitates information extraction.

Referring physicians prefer structured reports to narrative free text reports.

Structured MRI reports of the shoulder can reduce radiologist re-consultations.

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CI 95%:

Confidence interval




Narrative free text reports


Structured reports


Standard deviation


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Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sebastian Gassenmaier.

Ethics declarations


The scientific guarantor of this publication is Professor Wieland H. Sommer.

Conflict of interest

The authors of this manuscript declare relationships with the following companies: QMedify GmbH. Wieland H. Sommer and Marco Armbruster are co-founders of the website (by Smart Reporting GmbH), an online platform for structured reporting.


The authors state that this work has not received any funding.

Statistics and biometry

One of the authors has significant statistical expertise.

No complex statistical methods were necessary for this paper.

Informed consent

Written informed consent was waived by the institutional review board.

Ethical approval

Institutional review board approval was obtained.


• retrospective

• diagnostic study

• performed at one institution

Additional information

Sebastian Gassenmaier and Marco Armbruster contributed equally to this work.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.


Example of a structured report. The figure shows an example of a structured report used in our study. The report was translated from German and had to be edited due to language reasons and with regard to content for the protection of the patient’s anonymity. (DOC 31 kb)


Corresponding narrative free text report to ESM 1. The figure shows the corresponding non-structured narrative free text report used in our study. The report was translated from German and had to be edited due to language reasons and with regard to content for the protection of the patient’s anonymity. (DOC 24 kb)

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Gassenmaier, S., Armbruster, M., Haasters, F. et al. Structured reporting of MRI of the shoulder – improvement of report quality?. Eur Radiol 27, 4110–4119 (2017).

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