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Twice as Long to Read Digital Mammograms

Interpretation of digital screening mammograms takes twice as long as interpretation of film-screen mammograms, according to a report in the January issue of the American Journal of Roentgenology.

The differences ranged from 76 to 202 seconds longer.  The average interpretation time was 240 seconds (4 minutes) for digital screening mammograms and 127 seconds (2 minutes, 7 seconds) for film-screen screening mammograms.  At a high-volume hospital, this could add up to a significant difference.

There are advantages of digital mammography that offset the disadvantage of longer interpretation times.  It's easier to obtain the images. The images are also easier to store and transport. Finally, there have been three studies showing digital mammograms are more accurate than regular film mammography at finding breast cancer.

Taking longer to read all digital mammograms is not a problem; the problem comes from taking longer and still trying to read the same number of mammograms.