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Use of Digital Breast Tomosynthesis Grows, Clinical Guidelines Needed


Radiologists are using DBT clinically and more frequently, but it still remains a limited resource.

Digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) is being used more frequently but its use is still limited, according to an article published in the Journal of the American College of Radiology.

Researchers from the University of Colorado in Aurora sought to assess the utilization of DBT and examine the criteria for offering DBT to patients. They surveyed physician members of the Society of Breast Imaging, who completed an online survey that asked questions about their use of DBT.

Survey questions included the availability of DBT at their practice location, breast imaging practice characteristics and if DBT is used for clinical care or research. The researchers were also looking for information on clinical decision rules guiding patient selection for DBT, associated costs and if the physicians’ practices had any plans to obtain DBT.

The survey garnered a 37 percent response rate (670 respondents). Of these, 200 physicians (30 percent) stated they used DBT; 89 percent used DBT clinically. “Criteria used to select patients to undergo DBT varied, with 107 (68.2 percent) using exam type (screening versus diagnostic), 25 (15.9 percent) using mammographic density, and 25 (15.9 percent) using breast cancer risk,” the authors wrote.

The procedure was used most often in academic practices, and in practices that had more than three breast imagers or seven or more mammography units.

The authors concluded that DBT is being used more often but is still limited. “Clinical guidelines would assist practices in deciding whether to adopt DBT and in standardizing which patients should receive DBT,” they wrote.

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