Objective: To determine the negative predictive value of mammography and sonography in patients with focal/ diffuse breast pain with negative physical examination of the breasts.
Methods: A descriptive study, conducted at Radiology Department ofAga Khan University Hospital from 2006-2007 for a period of 2 years. A total of 207 women were referred for mammography and sonography because of focal or diffuse breast pain. Complete follow-up was available only in 55 patients. The outcome or gold standard was mammograms or ultrasound after an average follow-up period of 18 months with negative/benign findings or histopathology of the suspicious lesion or imaging which was the gold standard to determine the negative predictive value.
Results: Out of 55 patients, 17 (31%) had negative findings, benign findings were reported in 34 patients (62%), and 4 (7%) patients were subjected to mammographically guided breast biopsy. All the biopsies were done on the basis of abnormal findings on mammograms. All of the 4 patients had no evidence of cancer on subsequent histopathology. The negative predictive value of mammography and ultrasound in women with focal or diffuse breast pain was 100%.
Conclusion: Breast imaging using mammography and/or sonography in women who present with local or diffuse breast pain is of significant value, to reassure the patient as well as the clinician. However if imaging findings are suggestive of pathology a biopsy should not be delayed.