If your primary care physician has diagnosed you with Chiari malformation and you are being referred to a neurosurgeon or neurologist for further evaluation, part of testing you'll need to have is a series of MRIs at a center like Elkview General Hospital. You've likely heard of the importance of getting a second opinion. For a diagnosis like Chiari malformation, second and even third opinions are vital.
However, due to cost restraints, medical insurance typically limits the number of times you can have the same types of MRIs and other imaging done. What this means for you is that you need to obtain the images and reports so you can give them to the specialists you will go to for second and possibly third opinions. Here's how.
1. Make Sure the Specialist Orders the MRIs
After the radiologist reads the MRIs and writes their report, they will send the report to the physician who ordered the MRI. If your primary care physician orders the MRI, the neurosurgeon or neurologist will not receive the imaging and the report from the radiologist. While your primary care physician can forward these along to the specialist, there's always a chance that it won't get sent on time, particularly if your imaging and appointment with the specialist are close together on the calendar. Also, the primary care physician may not order the exact same MRIs that your specialist wants, such as imaging with or without contrast and with or without flexion and extension.
2. Ask the Radiologist for a Disc
After your imaging is completed, you should be asked if you would like to have a copy of the MRIs on a disc to take with you. Say yes. If you are not asked, tell them you would like a disc. The reason for this is so you have it to take with you when you get additional opinions. If you return at a later date to ask for a copy, you may need to pay a small fee.
3. Sign Up for the Patient Imaging Portal
Most primary care physicians have online portals for their patients. If you haven't done so already, sign up for this service. You'll be able to download the radiologist's report of your MRI from the portal so you can take the report with you to your appointments. If this option is not available, you'll need to return to the radiologist to pick up a copy of the report after they have completed it.