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AJR Am J Roentgenol. 2010 Apr;194(4):1152-9. doi: 10.2214/AJR.09.3064.

Recommendation for short-interval follow-up examinations after a probably benign assessment: is clinical practice consistent with BI-RADS guidance?

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  • 1Group Health Research Institute, 1730 Minor Ave, Ste 1600, Seattle, WA 98101, USA.



American College of Radiology BI-RADS guidance suggests that women with a probably benign finding on mammography receive a management recommendation for short-interval follow-up; historically, radiologists in community practice have not consistently linked this assessment with short-interval follow-up. We evaluated predictors of discordance between probably benign assessments and short-interval follow-up recommendations.


We linked data on 196 radiologists who completed a survey on demographic and practice patterns to 15,515 diagnostic mammograms they interpreted with probably benign assessments between 2001 and 2006. Patient characteristics were collected at the time of the mammography. Using logistic regression, we examined whether patient and radiologist characteristics were associated with the odds of short-interval follow-up recommendations (relative to a recommendation for normal follow-up, additional imaging evaluation, or biopsy or surgical consultation).


Overall, 90.9% of mammograms with probably benign findings were recommended for short-interval follow-up; 4.3% were recommended for normal follow-up, 3.0% for additional imaging, and 1.8% for biopsy or surgical consultation. Women with probably benign findings were less likely to receive a short-interval follow-up recommendation if they had extremely dense breasts versus almost entirely fatty breasts (odds ratio [OR], 0.61; 95% CI, 0.39-0.96) or had a breast lump versus no symptoms (OR, 0.55; 95% CI, 0.38-78). Radiologists were less likely to recommend short-interval follow-up if they had >/= 20 years of experience versus < 10 years of experience (OR, 0.57; 95% CI, 0.36-0.90) but more likely if they practiced primarily at an academic medical center versus other institutions (OR, 2.66; 95% CI, 1.14-6.21).


In contrast to older studies, the majority of probably benign assessments are now recommended for short-interval follow-up, but the probability of short-interval follow-up recommendations varies by patient and radiologist characteristics.

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