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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2009 Aug;193(2):586-91. doi: 10.2214/AJR.08.2031.

Digital breast tomosynthesis: observer performance study.

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Radiology Imaging Research, Department of Radiology, University of Pittsburgh, 3362 Fifth Ave., Rm. 223 FARP Bldg., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.



The purpose of this study was to compare in a retrospective observer study the diagnostic performance of full-field digital mammography (FFDM) with that of digital breast tomosynthesis.


Eight experienced radiologists interpreted images from 125 selected examinations, 35 with verified findings of cancer and 90 with no finding of cancer. The four display conditions included FFDM alone, 11 low-dose projections, reconstructed digital breast tomosynthesis images, and a combined display mode of FFDM and digital breast tomosynthesis images. Observers rated examinations using the screening BI-RADS rating scale and the free-response receiver operating characteristic paradigm. Observer performance levels were measured as the proportion of examinations prompting recall of patients for further diagnostic evaluation. The results were presented in terms of true-positive fraction and false-positive fraction. Performance levels were compared among the acquisitions and reading modes. Time to view and interpret an examination also was evaluated.


Use of the combination of digital breast tomosynthesis and FFDM was associated with 30% reduction in recall rate for cancer-free examinations that would have led to recall if FFDM had been used alone (p < 0.0001 for the participating radiologists, p = 0.047 in the context of a generalized population of radiologists). Use of digital breast tomosynthesis alone also tended to reduce recall rates, an average of 10%, although the observed decrease was not statistically significant (p = 0.09 for the participating radiologists). There was no convincing evidence that use of digital breast tomosynthesis alone or in combination with FFDM results in a substantial improvement in sensitivity.


Use of digital breast tomosynthesis for breast imaging may result in a substantial decrease in recall rate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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