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iRefer guidelines

Dr Daniel J Bell et al.

The publication iRefer Guidelines: Making the best use of clinical radiology is now in its eighth edition 1. It is published by The Royal College of Radiologists (RCR) in the UK. iRefer comprises a comprehensive set of evidence-based guidelines to help doctors and other health professionals decide on the most appropriate imaging to perform in almost any clinical scenario.


The guidelines were first published in November 1989 as "Making the Best Use of a Department of Clinical Radiology: Guidelines for Doctors". The guidelines were always intended to be used by clinicians and other health professionals in the day-to-day practice in the clinic, on the ward, and in the reporting room and therefore were, and are, issued as a small pocket-sized spiral-bound book which can fit easily into a doctor's white coat side pocket.

The 7th edition, published in 2012 were the first guidelines to be published in an electronic version. At this time the guidelines were re-branded as iRefer. Initially, there was an online version, soon after it was released as a downloadable app (iOS and Android versions) for mobile devices. It was initially priced at £2.99 per user. This 7th edition was available free to use by National Health Service (NHS) professionals working in the UK; access was via the N3 network, the NHS's own virtual private network. Funding support was provided by the Department of Health (DH) of the UK government.

Unfortunately, the DH has not continued this financial support for the new 8th edition. Therefore unless a user is a subscribing member or Fellow of the Royal College of Radiologists they now need to pay to access the guidelines.

The latest version of the guidelines, the 8th edition was published in May 2017. This edition is not currently available as a downloadable app. The 7th edition app has not been updated to work with iOS 11, therefore anyone using an iPhone which has been upgraded to the latest iOS firmware cannot use the app. 

Publication history
  • 1st edition: 1989
  • 2nd ed: 1993
  • 3rd ed: 1995
  • 4th ed: 1999
  • 5th ed: 2003
  • 6th ed: 2007
  • 7th ed: 2012
  • ​8th ed: 2017 (current)

Article information

rID: 56691
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • iRefer guidelines: Making the best use of clinical radiology
  • Making the best use of a clinical radiology department

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: Making the Best Use of a Department of Clinical Radiology: Guidelines for Doctors (photo)
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