Tomosynthesis Plus Mammography Adds to Reading Time

January 23, 2014

Tomosynthesis plus mammography images take 47 percent longer for radiologists to interpret than digital mammography alone.

Adding tomosynthesis to mammography increases image interpretation time for screening examinations compared with time to interpret images from conventional digital mammography alone, according to a study published in the journal Radiology.

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital sought to determine the effect of implementing a screening tomosynthesis program, combining tomosynthesis and mammography, on interpretation times in the real world setting, compared with interpretation times for conventional screening mammography.

Ten radiologists were recruited to participate in the study, which took place from July 2012 to January 2013. They prospectively read 2,163 images from screening digital mammography and 1,502 of combined tomosynthesis and mammography examinations, for a total of 3,665 examinations.

The examinations took place in one-hour sessions and the radiologists participated in at least five sessions per modality. The number of cases reported during each session was recorded for each reader, as well as the level of the radiologist experience.

The findings showed that mean interpretation time was 2.8 minutes for the combined tomosynthesis and mammography studies and 1.9 minutes for mammography. This was a 47 percent increase in time to read the combined studies over the digital mammography.

“A mean of 10.2 fewer studies were interpreted per hour during combined tomosynthesis and mammography compared with digital mammography sessions,” the authors wrote. However, the more experienced the radiologist, the less additional time was required overall.

The authors concluded that the addition of tomosynthesis to mammography resulted in increased image interpretation compared with conventional digital mammography alone.