Digital mammography analysts wait for results

September 22, 2005

Studies have failed to provide a slam-dunk for digital mammography over traditional film x-rays, according to a recent technology assessment report from the ECRI group.

Studies have failed to provide a slam-dunk for digital mammography over traditional film x-rays, according to a recent technology assessment report from the ECRI group.

ECRI, a nonprofit health services research agency, found that digital mammography's ability to detect breast cancer provides no significant improvement over film mammography.

The report reviewed three previously published screening trials that compared the two technologies: a study by Lewin et al published in the September 2002 issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology and the Oslo I and Oslo II screening trials.

While current research indicates that digital mammography may reduce recall rates as well as follow-up procedures, more evidence is needed to confirm these benefits, the ECRI report said.

Mammographers should wait for the results of the ACRIN trial before jumping into a digital purchase, said Dr. Etta Pisano, chief of breast imaging at the University of North Carolina and principal investigator for the American College of Radiology Imaging Network protocol 6652 trial.

The Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial is the most recent study to compare digital and screen-film mammography. It was not included in the ECRI report. Results will be presented in September at the ACRIN meeting in Washington, DC.