Report from ARRS: Facilities save money with digital mammography

May 19, 2005

The ability to manipulate images with digital mammography can result in fewer callbacks, and breast imaging centers could reduce costs associated with scheduling new appointments, reregistering patients, and rereviewing mammography exams.

The ability to manipulate images with digital mammography can result in fewer callbacks, and breast imaging centers could reduce costs associated with scheduling new appointments, reregistering patients, and rereviewing mammography exams.

Callbacks can result from technical reasons, such as poor patient positioning or patient movement, and from possible or definite abnormalities seen on the exam.

The use of digital mammography at Brigham and Women's Hospital resulted in significantly fewer callbacks of both types, according to a study presented Tuesday at the American Roentgen Ray Society meeting.

For patients, fewer callbacks reduce absenteeism, potential child care costs, and the anxiety associated with being asked to return, said coauthor Dr. Elisabeth Pepperell Frost, a staff radiologist at BWH.

The hospital switched from screen-film to digital mammography in 2003. Investigators led by Dr. Sughra Raza retrospectively reviewed callback rates from pre- and post-digital era.

During one six-month period, the callback rate for 6189 conventional screen-film mammograms was 4.4%. The callback rate for 6792 digital exams during a similar six-month stretch was 3.2%. The difference was significant, Frost said.

Technical improvements in the quality of the exam and the ability to manipulate digital views contributed to fewer callbacks. Specifically, digitally magnifying images reduced the need bring patients back for magnification views.

Most callbacks for digital exams resulted from actual abnormalities seen on the exam, rather than from technical reasons.

For more information from the online Diagnostic Imaging archives:

Digital mammography wins over lingering skeptics

Debate intensifies over clinical superiority of digital systems

Digital mammography delivers rapid results

Digital mammography nears milestone as obstacles fade