Medical radiologic technologist review: effects on a population-based breast cancer screening program

Radiology. 1999 May;211(2):529-33. doi: 10.1148/radiology.211.2.r99ma32529.


Purpose: To evaluate the effects of medical radiologic technologist review of mammograms in a population-based breast cancer screening program.

Materials and methods: A technologist review pilot project was incorporated into the Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, reading center. Technologists received special training in mammographic interpretation. They reviewed all 27,863 mammograms obtained at the center from July 1995 to September 1996 that were reviewed by a radiologist and selected cases for second blind reading by another radiologist. When the two radiologists' readings were in agreement, the report was sent. When the readings differed, a third opinion was obtained from the program's consulting radiologist. Changes in the number of mammograms interpreted as abnormal and the number of cancers detected were assessed.

Results: The technologist review was responsible for the detection of nine cancers missed at the first radiologist's interpretation. Technologists were very discriminating; only 391 cases (1.4%) were sent for double reading. The positive predictive value of screening did not change significantly (7.5% without review, 8.1% with review; P > .20).

Conclusion: A substantial number of cancers were found with the technologist review. The number of mammograms interpreted as abnormal was reduced slightly. The technologist review proved to be a cost-effective alternative to double reading by two radiologists.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Clinical Competence
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mammography*
  • Mass Screening*
  • Observer Variation
  • Pilot Projects
  • Program Evaluation*
  • Radiology / standards*