Should prior film mammograms be digitised during the transition to digital mammography?
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KeywordsCancer Research National Health Film Format Screening Process Digital Mammography
National Health Service breast screening centres will soon make the transition to digital mammography, and how that transition is conducted may affect both performance and workflow. A trial of digitising the prior film mammograms was conducted at University Hospital (Coventry). Radiologists/advanced practitioners (n = 8) read screening cases for 1.5 hours in two conditions: either prior mammograms digitised (2905 digitiser at 75 μm; Array, USA) and presented onscreen alongside the current mammograms; or displayed in film format on a multiviewer. Measurements of eye movements showed readers look at the prior mammograms a greater number of times per case when digitised (t(7) = -2.73, P = 0.03). This could have implications for performance, as use of prior mammograms is known to improve performance. After the study, seven out of the eight readers expressed a preference for digitisation of prior mammograms. Digitisation was trialled at two different points in the workflow: before the screening session resulted in 30% wastage due to women not attending; and after the screening session caused a bottle-neck in workflow that slowed the screening process by approximately half a day (3 minutes per woman) in this implementation. The present study indicates that digitising prior mammograms is beneficial for readers, but may delay the production of results in the screening process.