Use of single-view digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) and ultrasound vs. additional views and ultrasound for the assessment of screen-detected abnormalities: German multi-reader study

Acta Radiol. 2018 Jul;59(7):782-788. doi: 10.1177/0284185117732600. Epub 2017 Sep 20.


Background Data on the value of digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) for further assessment of screen-detected lesions are still limited. Purpose To compare screening mammography, single-view DBT and ultrasound-information (TS) vs. screening mammography, additional views and ultrasound-information (AV) for assessment of screen-detected abnormalities. Material and Methods The use of wide-angle DBT for screen-detected, soft-tissue abnormalities requiring additional views was investigated: 241 cases (206 benign and 35 malignant lesions), verified by histology or two-year follow-up, were read by ten readers as TS and as AV sets, yielding 2410 diagnoses for each set. Readings were randomly sequenced. Results The mean interval between readings was nine weeks (random sequence). Evaluation was breast-based. Overall, in terms of area under receiver operating characteristic (AUC; varying degree of suspicion cutoff), TS and AV readings showed similar performance: for TS, AUC was 0.889 (95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.871-0.907) and for AV, AUC was 0.903 (95% CI = 0.886-0.921). TS readings had slightly higher sensitivity than AV readings (96.9% vs. 95.4%) but lower specificity (50% vs. 58.1%) and more variations between reader performance; absolute false negatives (FN) were reduced in 8/16 readers, equal in 5/16, and increased in only 3/16. Conclusion This study broadly confirms previous data showing equivalence of DBT to AV. However, bias against TS may have occurred since the region of interest was not indicated in the TS set as compared to its obvious identification on the AV set by the selected spot views. A key finding is that reader experience with DBT may be more important than so far reported.

Keywords: AUC; Breast neoplasms/diagnostic imaging; X-ray computed tomography; imaging; mammography; sensitivity and specificity; three-dimensional.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Breast / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Mammography / methods*
  • Observer Variation
  • Prospective Studies
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Ultrasonography, Mammary / methods*