Hopefully, those interested in writing up a case report are well on their way to writing up their papers. However, in radiology publication, it’s not just about the writing. Often times, the images are just as (if not more) important. Here are some tips regarding image selection and processing, which helped me when I was a trainee.
1. Select images free of artifact unless it cannot be avoided or if the paper discusses imaging artifacts.
2. Crop images appropriately. Images are expensive to print. They take a lot of ink and space on a page. It does the journal a disservice if one submits an image in which there is only subtle pathology in a small portion of the right lower lobe, but one chooses to include the whole thorax including the blanket keeping the patient warm.
3. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Don’t crop so aggressively such that there is no frame of reference. It should be obvious to a radiologist which portion of the anatomy the image is from. Also, aesthetically, the adjacent anatomy acts as framing.
4. The golden formatting rule: 300 DPI, TIFF. Most journals require one to reformat images to 300 dots per inch in TIFF format. Obviously, check the particular journal’s website as there may be variation in this rule. This can be performed most easily using Photoshop; however, there are free image formatting programs (e.g. GIMP) which can also be utilized. Freeware often does not have all the functionality and customer support of industry software.
5. Arrows are invaluable to point out pathology in images. Arrows should be large enough to be easily visualized. Also, similar to cropping, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Arrows which are too large or too numerous may detract from the image. My favorite attending from fellowship always reminded me to use arrows judiciously; don’t “St. Sebastian” the image.
Editor's Note: If you are interested in reading further about this topic, click here to link to an editorial on this topic in the journal Radiology.