January 9, 2009 — Digital mammograms take
longer to interpret than film-screen mammograms, according to a study performed
at The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.
The study included four
radiologists who interpreted 268 digital screening mammograms and 189
film-screening mammograms. “The average interpretation time for all of our
readers was 240 seconds (4 minutes) for digital screening mammograms and 127
seconds (2 minutes, 7 seconds) for film-screen screening mammograms,” said
Tamara Miner Haygood, MD, lead author of the study. “The digital screening
mammograms took nearly twice as long to interpret as the film-screen screening
mammograms,” said Dr. Haygood.
The study identified
factors that might have contributed to the difference in time. “Those factors
were the identity of the interpreting radiologist, whether there were older
studies available for comparison, whether the radiologist looked for and hung up
additional films, how many images were obtained and whether the study was normal
or not. In each of these situations, the digital images took longer to interpret
than the film-screen images,” said Dr. Haygood.
“As a result of this
study, radiologists should be able to make a more informed choice about whether
digital of film-screen mammograms are right for their practice, and if they
choose digital screening mammograms, they will have a better idea of how much
time to allow for reading them,” said Dr. Haygood.
mammograms offer an improvement in diagnostic accuracy compared with film-screen
screening mammograms and they have other advantages such as improved ease of
storage and retrieval,” said Dr. Haygood. It will be very beneficial if
manufacturers of digital equipment, in cooperation with radiologists, can
improve equipment and reading techniques to bring interpretation speed for
digital mammograms closer to interpretation speed for film-screen mammograms,”
— A news release from The American
Roentgen Ray Society (ARRS).