Double-reading mammograms may not be better

When two radiologists read the same mammogram, they don’t necessarily improve the accuracy of diagnosis of cancer, according to a study at the Medical College of Wisconsin.1

Pairs of radiologists reviewed 79 randomly selected screening mammograms at 24 facilities. On average, the true-positive rate of diagnosis of cancer improved by 8% to 14% while the false-positive rate increased by 4% to 10%. However, in some pairs, the false-positive rate increased significantly more than did the true-positive rate.

Whether two radiologists should pair up to double-read mammograms depends on their "diagnostic concordance" and their individual true-positive and false-positive rates, the researchers concluded.


1. Beam CA, Sullivan DC, Layde PM. Effect of human variability on independent double reading in screening mammography. Academic Radiology 1996; 3:891-897.