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For Professionals – Imaging Referral Guidelines


Need Help Finding an Appropriate Test for Your Patient?

The following are some sources available to health practitioners to assist in making imaging referral decisions:


The 2021-2022 CAR Diagnostic Imaging Referral Guidelines are intended for physicians and are aimed at assisting them in making decisions in regard to appropriate imaging studies for specific cases. These Referral Guidelines are not intended as a means of restricting the physician’s role in the process of decision-making in regard to the imaging studies to be requested. The Referral Guidelines are evidence-informed and are based on expert opinion or case studies. They should not be used to diminish in any way the freedom of attending physicians to determine and order imaging studies for their patients for whom they have the ultimate responsibility. Discussion between the radiologist and the physician, particularly during multidisciplinary team meetings, must always take precedence. (excerpt from the CAR web-site)

Referral Guidelines at a Glance

  • Section A: Central nervous system
  • Section B: Head and neck
  • Section C: Spine
  • Section D: Musculoskeletal system
  • Section E: Cardiovascular
  • Section F: Thoracic
  • Section G: Gastrointestinal system
  • Section H: Urological, adrenal and genitourinary systems
  • Section I: Obstetrics and gynaecology
  • Section J: Trauma
  • Section K: Cancer
  • Section L: Pediatrics
  • Section M: Breast disease

You can access these guidelines by clicking on the link below. A new page will open from the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR) web-site:

Canadian Association of Radiologists - Diagnostic Imaging Referral Guidelines


Choosing Wisely Canada (CWC) is a campaign to help physicians and patients engage in conversations about unnecessary tests, treatments and procedures, and to help physicians and patients make smart and effective choices to ensure high-quality care. (excerpt from the CWC web-site)

Choosing Wisely Ontario (CWO) is a campaign organized by Health Quality Ontario and Choosing Wisely Canada, in partnership with the Ontario College of Family Physicians. (excerpt from the CWO web-site)

You can access Recommendations and Resources, organized by Specialty, by clicking on a link below. Depending on the link you choose, a new page will open from either the Choosing Wisely Canada or Choosing Wisely Ontario web-sites:

Choosing Wisely Canada Choosing Wisely Ontario


The ACR Appropriateness Criteria® (AC) are evidence-based guidelines to assist referring physicians and other providers in making the most appropriate imaging or treatment decision for a specific clinical condition. Employing these guidelines helps providers enhance quality of care and contribute to the most efficacious use of radiology. (excerpt from the ACR web-site)

You can access these guidelines by clicking on the link below. A new page will open from the American College of Radiology (ACR) web-site:

American College of Radiology (ACR) - Appropriateness Criteria