An idle question about medical terms on a CT scan

I recently had an abdominal CT scan to check out some pain I’d been having. Everything came back A-OK, but in looking over the report, I have a question.

In some cases the MD who reviewed the scan referred to various organs and such as “normal” and in other cases he called them “unremarkable.” Is there any difference, or is he just trying not to be repetitive?

Basically, if it’s normal, unremarkable or it is marked “no abnormality detected” then you’re fine.

It’s not actually broken down further, and the different terms were probably just used to make reading the report less of a chore.

As someone who gets reports with those terms on a daily basis, I interpret “normal” as literally that - normal. On the other hand, I assume that “unremarkable” or “non-contributory” can mean that there may be a variant of normal present, or perhaps even a totally unrelated but benign finding such as calcification of the choroid plexus (that part of the brain that makes cerebrospinal fluid and which often calcifies as people age).

I also read radiologists’ dictations fairly regularly. ‘Unremarkable’ basically means that there’s nothing out of the ordinary to note about whatever the rad is referring to, as in, “The kidneys, ureter and bladder are unremarkable.”

I tend to think of ‘normal’ as something like “it falls within expected parameters.”

Irishgirl had it right: If it’s normal or unremarkable, that’s a good thing.

Radiology biller here. I too read this reports daily, many dozens of them.

“Unremarkable” also means “yeah, I looked at it, and there wasn’t anything out of the ordinary there, so I’m puttin’ it in the report so you can’t later claim you had a tumor there that I missed.” Radiologists particularly are often suspected or accused by patients of not seeing something obvious or of not predicting future outcomes. “You saw my abdomen X-ray in 1985, how come you didn’t see my ____________?” Saying they saw it, and how it looked at the time, is good cover-your-butt policy.

It also means, in some cases, “yes, these organs appeared on the image, and here I am commenting on them, which justifies this fee.” Insurance companies require that some specific procedures require explicit visualization of parts of the body. Without them on the report, they can’t prove they did it, therefore can’t charge for it.

Mostly, yeah, from a medical standpoint, it means, “Ayup. Liver looks… yep, there it is, by golly.”

“Within normal limits” is a variation on normal/unremarkable, as well. Pretty much means that it might not be textbook perfection, but it’s just fine and nothing to worry about.