What is a double reading of a mammogram?

Updated: Jan 31, 2017
  • Author: Muhammad Neaman Siddique, MBBS; Chief Editor: Eugene C Lin, MD  more...
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Double reading means that the mammogram is read by 2 radiologists either independently or interpreted together. As opposed to the United States, it is a standard practice in Europe. The aim is to increase the sensitivity and specificity of the examination. If the readers happen to differ in their interpretation of a mammogram, the issue can be approached in 3 different ways. Patient may be called back for follow-up studies if either of the radiologists identifies an abnormality, a strategy termed ”highest reader recall.” Alternatively, ”arbitration” is provided by a third reader who reviews the films and determines if the patient needs further diagnostic work-up or a ”consensus” is developed by a panel of radiologists that may or may not include the original readers.

Many observational studies have shown benefit for double reading, but no randomized trials have looked at the practice. Data review from the Norwegian Breast Cancer Screening Program for over a million examinations that were performed by radiologists, 50% of whom were dedicated mammography readers, found that 23.6% of the cancers detected were diagnosed in patients who were recalled for discordant interpretation. [14]

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