Mammograms read by specialists save patientsí time and money
Results of a recent study show that breast-imaging specialists are more efficient than general radiologists at reading mammograms, says Martha Mainiero, MD, of Brown Medical School and Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI, and lead author of the study.
From September 1, 2000, until September 1, 2001, 28,397 screening mammograms were interpreted by a group of 37 radiologists, including 30 general radiologists and seven specialists. Between September 1, 2001 and September 1, 2002, 22,086 different screening mammograms were performed at the same sites, but interpreted by 10 of the same physicians, most (seven) of whom were the specialists.
The call back rate was compared between the two groups. Results show that the average call back rate for the first year was 11%, which was significantly higher than the call back rate of 8% in the second year.
Dr. Mainiero says, "the call back rate was significantly lower in the second year, when there was a higher proportion of specialists reading mammograms."
"For the purpose of this study," Dr. Mainiero says, "we considered breast-imaging specialists to be radiologists who had read 3,000 mammograms per year over the last two years. In our practice, this includes people who have fellowship training or extensive clinical experience in breast imaging."
Dr. Mainiero suggests using breast-imaging specialists when available and says, "if practices are large enough to have people with more experience reading mammograms, it is more efficient for the practice and the patient."
The study did not evaluate the accuracy between specialists and general radiologists and did not assess if general radiologists can be educated to perform at the same level of specialists.
The study will be presented May 8, during the American Roentgen Ray Society Annual Meeting in San Diego.