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Neuroscience Journal
Volume 2013, Article ID 439145, 7 pages
Review Article

Incidental Findings in Neuroimaging: Ethical and Medicolegal Considerations

1Centre of Neurosciences Study, Queen’s University, 18 Stuart Street, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 3N6
2Centre of Studies in Primary Care, Queen’s University, 220 Bagot Street, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 5E9
3Department of Family Medicine, Queen’s University, 220 Bagot Street, Kingston, ON, Canada K7L 5E9

Received 24 August 2012; Revised 15 October 2012; Accepted 25 October 2012

Academic Editor: Ellen M. Mowry

Copyright © 2013 Lawrence Leung. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


With the rapid advances in neurosciences in the last three decades, there has been an exponential increase in the use of neuroimaging both in basic sciences and clinical research involving human subjects. During routine neuroimaging, incidental findings that are not part of the protocol or scope of research agenda can occur and they often pose a challenge as to how they should be handled to abide by the medicolegal principles of research ethics. This paper reviews the issue from various ethical (do no harm, general duty to rescue, and mutual benefits and owing) and medicolegal perspectives (legal liability, fiduciary duties, Law of Tort, and Law of Contract) with a suggested protocol of approach.