What Is Radiology Transcription?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2019
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A radiology transcription is a written version of a radiologist’s oral report on the outcome of a medical imaging study. Some radiologists prefer to dictate results rather than writing them up, and a transcription may be necessary for the patient file or to pass the record on to another care provider. Some facilities handle their transcription needs personally, typically when they have a large staff, and it is also possible to contract them out to a third party. Freelance transcriptionists as well as independent firms can offer this service, for varying fees.

Radiologists review medical imaging studies to determine whether a patient has abnormalities and to discuss their nature. The radiology report can include a thorough overview of the contents of a scan, as well as some recommendations based on the available information. These might involve more imaging or testing along with a variety of treatment options. In some cases, rapid processing of such reports is very important to make sure patients receive timely and appropriate treatment.


Transcriptionists can take an oral report and turn it into a hard copy radiology transcription. This may be attached to the patient’s chart, faxed to care providers, or provided directly to the patient by request. Oral reports may be phoned into a transcription center or recorded on a dictation device. The better the quality of the audio, the more accurate the radiology transcription will be. Issues like accents and background noise can make it more difficult to provide a clear transcript.

Contents of a radiology transcription include the same case information as the oral report, discussing the patient’s name, identification number, and other demographics, along with the nature of the test and the outcome. Some transcripts are verbatim, while others may organize the information in a standardized fashion to make it easier to process. Transcripts may be subject to review to catch errors and confirm their accuracy. This can increase the cost of the service, as extra personnel are needed to go over each radiology transcription.

Training is available for people who want to become medical transcriptionists, to show them how to accurately prepare written versions of oral reports. The training includes an overview of medical terminology and topics as well as opportunities to practice with sample materials. For people with an interest in a specialty like radiology, it can be possible to receive an extra certification by taking classes on particular topics that will help the transcriptionist understand reports more thoroughly.


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