While several factors affect how long you should wait for your MRI or CT scan and the results of these imaging tests, your “priority level” has the most influence. For instance, patients in an emergency situation are not included on the waiting list and can expect to undergo the procedure and receive their results within just a few hours.
For non-emergencies, the waiting period varies significantly–one day, within a week, or a few months–because radiologists consider some key factors.
- Your symptoms and medical history
- The complexity of your medical examination (Do you need multiple tests so your doctors can make a comparison?)
- The transmission between practice to doctor (Even if the radiologists complete the scans within 24 hours, sometimes patients may have to wait longer for their doctors to interpret the results.)
Turnaround Time: How Long Is Too Long?
Studies have shown that delay in delivering scan results causes the vast majority of patients to experience anxiety, as they interpret it as “bad news.” Thus, leading medical imaging service Catalina Imaging offers Mobile CT units that can travel to hospitals or any convenient sites.
The company’s Mobile CT Scanners have a spacious changing room and top-notch imaging technologies for quick and accurate scanning.
Usually, the scans are given to the patients on a disc after the imaging diagnostic exam is complete. However, the turnaround time for their analysis depends on the availability of the radiologists who read the results and the doctors who interpret them.
In a 2017 report involving around 200 patients, the vast majority wanted their results in one to three days and would call their doctors between one and five days if they had not received news about them.
For patients who had an MRI or CT scan to check for pneumonia, brain tumor, and cancer treatment, they said they expected results within a day, while those who required it as part of their routine screening and had it to identify the cause of chest pain, they expected results three days and two days, respectively.
How the Medical Industry Is Dealing with the Backlogs
With some states still struggling with the increasing number of coronavirus patients, some hospitals have a high volume of results that need to be analyzed and processed. To cope with the backlogs, they prioritize patients who need rapid imaging tests, i.e., those who had been in an accident, had a stroke, or any emergency situation requiring swift medical attention.
What You Can Do to Reduce Your Waiting Time
While you have no control over some external factors (such as the availability of your provider), there are ways that may help you reduce your wait time.
- Opt for a mobile MRI or CT scanner, which is particularly useful when there is a sudden increase in the demand for imaging.
- Tell your doctor or the radiology department to call you if there is a last-minute opening on their “cancellation list.”
- Inform your provider that you are willing to travel to an imaging center with a quicker turnaround time.
- Tell your provider that you are willing to go for an appointment in an “ungodly” hour. (Remember, some imaging centers operate 24/7.)
- Follow your doctor’s food/water intake instructions before your MRI or CT scan to avoid having your test rescheduled.