Publication Abstract

Authors: Beam CA, Conant EF, Sickles EA

Title: Association of volume and volume-independent factors with accuracy in screening mammogram interpretation.

Journal: J Natl Cancer Inst 95(4):282-90

Date: 2003 Feb 19

Abstract: BACKGROUND: Early detection of breast cancer is associated with the accurate reading of screening mammograms, but factors that influence reading accuracy are not well understood. We thus investigated whether reading volume and other factors were independently associated with accuracy in reading screening mammograms in a population of U.S. radiologists. METHODS: A random selection of 110 of 292 radiologists who agreed to participate, if selected, interpreted screening mammograms from 148 randomly selected women. Original index mammograms (i.e., mediolateral oblique and craniocaudal views of each breast) were used; comparison original mammograms were provided when available. Radiologist-level and facility-level factors were surveyed. Two standard metrics of screening accuracy, both based on receiver operating characteristic curves, were analyzed. The influence of volume on accuracy after controlling for other factors was assessed with multiple regression analysis. RESULTS: Current reading volume was not statistically significantly associated with interpretive accuracy. More recently trained radiologists interpreted mammograms more accurately than those trained earlier (-0.76% [95% confidence interval (CI) = -1.75% to -0.02%] reduction in sensitivity per year since residency). Facility-level factors that were statistically significantly and independently associated with better accuracy were the number of diagnostic breast imaging examinations and image-guided breast interventional procedures performed (0.55% [95% CI = 0.11% to 2.40%] increase in accuracy per examination or procedure offered), being classified as a comprehensive breast diagnostic and/or screening center or freestanding mammography center (1.39% [95% CI = 0.15% to 3.82%] higher than a hospital radiology department or multispecialty medical clinic), and being a facility that practiced double reading (1.61% [95% CI = 1.99% to 11.65%]) higher than in a facility without such practice). CONCLUSIONS: Individual radiologists' current reading volume was not statistically significantly associated with accuracy in reading screening mammograms, but several other factors were. Expertise reflects a complex multifactorial process that needs further clarification.