Digital Mammography not Better than Film X-Rays

Modernity against tradition -
X-ray mammography still useful
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Three large trials of full-field digital mammography have been completed, with several thousand women receiving digital mammograms in each. No statistically significant differences in detection rates were observed between the x-ray and the new digital technology. The patients in each group experienced identical positioning and compression of the breast.

"The studies that have been done so far haven't provided a 'slam-dunk' for full-field digital mammography," says Robert Maliff, associate director of the Health Systems Group at ECRI, whose Technology Assessment Group published the report. ECRI is a nonprofit health services research agency that produces systematic evidence reviews on medical devices, drugs, biotechnologies, procedures, and behavioural health services.

Maliff says radiation for patients may be "incrementally lower" with digital screening depending on the type of detector used, but the report did not assess the literature on radiation doses - rather it assessed its efficacy as a screening technology for breast cancer.

At best, the new technology is expected to offer incremental improvements in cancer detection rates, which Maliff says may be enough to spark a large-scale transition to the new technology. "Cost-effectiveness will ultimately determine whether full-field digital mammography technology is adopted, since hospitals must justify their purchase based on exam volume and patient population," the report says.; Source: Center for the Advancement of Health