Public Release: 

Digital mammography longer to interpret

American College of Radiology

Interpretation times for screening mammography are significantly longer for full-field digital mammography (FFDM) than for screen-film mammography (SFM), says a new study by researchers from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, IL.

In the study, four radiologists experienced in breast imaging evaluated 105 SFM cases and 103 FFDM cases, and two breast imaging fellows evaluated 48 cases from each technique. The mean interpretation times for all reviewers were 93 seconds for SFM and 148 seconds for FFDM, making interpretation times 59% longer for FFDM than for SFM. For the radiologists, interpretation times were 64% longer for FFDM than for SFM, and for the breast imaging fellows, interpretation times were 53% longer for FFDM than for SFM.

According to Mariana Solari, MD, lead author of the study, "In a busy clinical practice, interpretation time is very important. Ideally, user-friendly equipment and minimizing technical problems that distract the reviewer will increase efficacy and accuracy in the interpretation process. Essentially, our findings show that, cumulatively, you could be losing 60 cases per hour."

In addition to the difference in interpretation times, the researchers also discovered that more technical problems occurred with FFDM than with SFM. Technical problems occurred in 6% of FFDM cases (9/151) as opposed to no technical problems with the SFM cases. According to Dr. Solari, the technical problems for FFDM included that raw data was transferred to the review workstation, images were not retrieved due to lack of disk space, images could not be printed or retrieved for callback, and the wrong images were received for comparison.

Eric Berns, PhD, an author on the study, will present the research on May 3 during the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, FL.


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