How does adopting DBT impact an imaging provider’s screening volumes?

Adopting digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) at your facility does not lead to a drop in monthly breast cancer screening volumes, according to new research published in the American Journal of Roentgenology.

“The present study … shows no evidence of decreased capacity for breast cancer imaging after DBT adoption,” wrote lead author Christoph I. Lee, MD, MS, MBA, with the department of radiology at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, and colleagues. “With reported increases in image acquisition time and doubling of the imaging interpretation time with DBT screening, concerns of decreasing capacity for screening at the facility level has been mentioned as a potential concern. Our results indicate that the facility-level volume was maintained and slightly improved at least 15 months after DBT adoption, despite concerns of increased image acquisition and interpretation time.”

The authors examined data from five breast imaging registries. Overall, more than 18 percent of the imaging facilities in those registries adopted DBT between 2011 and 2014. Monthly screening volumes were actually slightly higher following adoption than before, remaining stable for the entirety of the studied timeframe.

Adopting DBT may lead to slightly higher screening volumes, the authors explained, thanks to DBT leading to fewer recalls.

“This inverse relationship suggests that the relative mix of screening and diagnostic breast imaging examinations may be changing with DBT adoption, with purportedly fewer recalls leading to lower diagnostic imaging volumes as well as shorter diagnostic workup times because of the added information provided by DBT,” the authors wrote. “This, in turn, may allow practices to shift their appointments from time-intensive diagnostic imaging examinations to shorter screening examinations, potentially leading to the observed incremental increases in facility-level screening volumes after DBT adoption.”

Lee and colleagues also none of the facilities that adopted DBT had a change in “practice type or profit status.”