Image Service Center

Massachusetts General Hospital
Image Service Center
Blake Sub Basement - 0029A
55 Fruit St.
Boston, MA 02114

Monday to Friday
8:00am - 6:00pm

Phone: 617-726-1798
Fax: 617-724-0264
Email >

Step-by-step instructions for...

General information

  • Images are available starting two business days after the exam. It takes time for the images to be processed, stored, accessed and interpreted by a radiologist, and then made available for output (learn more).
  • Images other than mammograms are stored for seven years after the patient's last radiology exam. Mammography Images are stored for 10 years after the patient's last mammogram.
  • Today, Mass General Imaging is 100% digital, so we will provide a CD that contains both the images and the radiologist's report.
  • By HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) mandate, Image Service Center representatives cannot read radiology reports to anyone, including patients and clinicians.
  • If you wish to obtain the radiologist's report only (no images), please contact Mass General Medical Records at 617-724-4555.


Instructions for patients

  1. Fill out and submit the online order form for patients.
  2. Print and fill out two required authorization forms:
    a. Authorization to Release Images (PDF) (En Español)
    b. Authorization to Release Medical Report and Images to Third Parties (PDF)
  3. Mail, fax, or hand deliver the completed forms to the Image Service Center.


  • Both release forms are required. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) mandates that all healthcare facilities must obtain written permission from the patient before releasing health information to any person other than the treating physician.
  • People sometimes find the second form (2b above) confusing. In the "release to" section you should enter the name and address of the doctor you want to receive your images, or your name if you are getting the images for your own records. Under "Information to be released," you only need to check off "x-rays/scan reports" (the other categories are there because this form is used by many departments at Mass General).

Instructions for physicians outside Mass General

  1. Using official letterhead, fax or mail the details of what you need, including patient information and the date and description of the exam(s), to the Image Service Center.
  2. We will also need the following two authorization forms, signed by your patient:
    a. Authorization to Release Images (PDF)
    b. Authorization to Release Medical Report and Images to Third Parties (PDF)
  3. We will contact you to confirm, and then mail you the images and report on a CD.

Instructions for physicians inside Mass General

  1. Fill out and submit the online order form for Mass General physicians.
  2. Await notification that the images are ready.
  3. Pick up the images at the Image Service Center (Mass General photo ID required).

Instructions for other parties (legal requests)

Please contact the Image Service Center for individualized service.


Additional information: The process

Image Service Center staff

Image Service Center staff

Why does it take two business days for images to become available? Learn about all the steps that must take place before the Image Service Center can deliver your images.

The exam

  • At the time of the exam a certified radiology technologist captures images using a radiological device, such as an MRI machine or CT scanner.
  • The device stores the images similar to how a digital camera stores its images.
  • Images are then reviewed for quality and accuracy by the technologist before they are transmitted to electronic storage.

Image storage

  • Images are archived in a permanent database where they can be retrieved by a radiologist for interpretation.

Interpretation by a radiologist

  • Imaging exams are routed through the network to the computer of a radiologist who specializes in the area of the anatomy that was imaged.
  • The radiologist "reads" the images on a computer monitor designed to provide high quality views.
  • The radiologist reports his/her findings via the computer network. Many radiologists dictate the report using special software, others type.
  • In most cases imaging exams will be interpreted within 48 hours of the imaging.
  • Both the primary care physician and the requesting physician will receive a copy of the radiologist's report by a method of their choice.

Reproduction by an Image Service Center representative

  • Once the radiologist has reported his/her findings and the imaging exam has been finalized, it is ready to be reproduced by an Image Service Center representative.
  • Most imaging studies are burned to a CD.
  • CDs contain both images and reports.
  • One CD can contain a complete MRI study.


  • Images may be picked up at the Image Service Center or sent by mail.

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