Authors: Sickles EA, Wolverton DE, Dee KE
Title: Performance parameters for screening and diagnostic mammography: specialist and general radiologists.
Journal: Radiology 224(3):861-9
Date: 2002 Sep
Abstract: PURPOSE: To evaluate performance parameters for radiologists in a practice of breast imaging specialists and general diagnostic radiologists who interpret a large series of consecutive screening and diagnostic mammographic studies. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Data (ie, patient age; family history of breast cancer; availability of previous mammograms for comparison; and abnormal interpretation, cancer detection, and stage 0-I cancer detection rates) were derived from review of mammographic studies obtained from January 1997 through August 2001. The breast imaging specialists have substantially more initial training in mammography and at least six times more continuing education in mammography, and they interpret 10 times more mammographic studies per year than the general radiologists. Differences between specialist and general radiologist performances at both screening and diagnostic examinations were assessed for significance by using Student t and chi(2) tests. RESULTS: The study involved 47,798 screening and 13,286 diagnostic mammographic examinations. Abnormal interpretation rates for screening mammography (ie, recall rate) were 4.9% for specialists and 7.1% for generalists (P <.001); and for diagnostic mammography (ie, recommended biopsy rate), 15.8% and 9.9%, respectively (P <.001). Cancer detection rates at screening mammography were 6.0 cancer cases per 1,000 examinations for specialists and 3.4 per 1,000 for generalists (P =.007); and at diagnostic mammography, 59.0 per 1,000 and 36.6 per 1,000, respectively (P <.001). Stage 0-I cancer detection rates at screening mammography were 5.3 cancer cases per 1,000 examinations for specialists and 3.0 per 1,000 for generalists (P =.012); and at diagnostic mammography, 43.9 per 1,000 and 27.0 per 1,000, respectively (P <.001). CONCLUSION: Specialist radiologists detect more cancers and more early-stage cancers, recommend more biopsies, and have lower recall rates than general radiologists.