Original Research

Adequacy of ultrasound reports in patients presenting with obstructive jaundice at a tertiary hospital radiology department

Nondumiso Dlamini, Matthew Goodier
South African Journal of Radiology | Vol 20, No 1 | a1034 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajr.v20i1.1034 | © 2016 Nondumiso Dlamini, Matthew Goodier | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 12 May 2016 | Published: 22 September 2016

About the author(s)

Nondumiso Dlamini, Department of Radiology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Matthew Goodier, Department of Radiology, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Background: Patients with obstructive jaundice require a stepwise approach to investigation and management. Ultrasound (US) is the initial screening modality of choice and has been shown to be accurate in demonstrating the presence of dilated bile ducts, as well as the level and cause of obstruction. For adequate radiological communication to the clinician, degree of bile duct dilatation, level of obstruction, appearance of the transition zone and cause of obstruction must be reported. However, without a structured reporting method, much of this information may be omitted.

Objectives: The aim of the study was to investigate the adequacy of US findings in patients with obstructive jaundice, as documented, without standardised reporting.

Methods: A retrospective chart review of 130 US reports of adult patients presenting at Grey’s Hospital US Department with a clinical assessment of obstructive jaundice was conducted. Data for the period January to December 2013, were analysed. US reports of patients with dilated bile ducts were assessed for report adequacy by looking at four important clinical factors, that is, the degree of bile duct dilatation, the level of obstruction, the appearance of the transition zone and the cause of the obstruction.

Results: A report adequacy score was assessed in 79 patients with dilated bile ducts; however, two reports were excluded because of obscuration by gas. There was a high level of report inadequacy (38%) without the use of a structured reporting template. The level of obstruction was the most common component missing from the reports (25%), followed by the appearance of the transition zone (18%) and cause of obstruction (12%).

Conclusion: We propose the use of an US report template for obstructive jaundice patients in order to ensure comprehensive reporting. Structured radiological reporting will improve the method of communication between clinicians and radiologists, thus improving the quality of patient care.


Obstructive jaundice, Ultrasound, Reporting adequacy, Structured reporting


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