Breast Tissue Density Affects Mammography Reading Patterns

August 28, 2014

Mammograms of dense breast tissue are read in a different way than mammograms of less dense breast tissue.

Increased mammographic breast density changes radiologists' visual search patterns, according to a study published in the journal Academic Radiology.

Researchers from Australia sought to determine the impact of mammographic breast density on the visual search process during reading of digital mammograms. They obtained a set of 149 craniocaudal digital mammograms that were read by seven radiologists. Observer search patterns were recorded by the researchers.

The researchers were looking for the total time spent examining each case, the times when the first lesion was observed, dwell time and the number of hits per area.

The results showed that in both low- and high-mammographic density cases, the radiologists spent significantly longer time to find the first lesions if the lesions were located outside, compared with overlying fibroglandular dense tissue. The researchers also noted significantly longer dwell time and greater number of fixations when the lesions were situated within the dense fibroglandular tissue, instead of outside.

The researchers concluded that increased mammographic breast density affected how radiologists read digital images.