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Reporting and Perceptions of Breast Arterial Calcification on Mammography: A Survey of ACR Radiologists

Published:February 17, 2021DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.acra.2021.01.027

      Rationale and Objectives

      The ACR Breast Commission conducted a member survey to evaluate current practices of reporting breast arterial calcification (BAC) on mammography and to determine perceptions about the value of BAC communication and follow-up recommendations among radiologists.

      Materials and Methods

      In September 2020, an 18-item online survey was emailed to radiologist members of the American College of Radiology (ACR). Questions included radiologist demographics, current BAC reporting practices, follow-up recommendations, and perceptions about BAC. Five-point Likert scales were used and multivariate analysis was performed.

      Results

      Of 598 completed survey responses, up to 87% (522/598) of ACR radiologist members include BAC in mammogram reports. However, only 41% (212/522) of respondents report BAC ‘always’ or ‘most of the time’. Radiologist factors significantly associated with BAC reporting include years in practice and fellowship training with those in practice longer more likely to report BAC (OR 1.10, 95% CI, [1.01-1.20], p = 0.023) and those with fellowship training less likely to report BAC (OR 0.63, 95% CI, [0.42-0.94], p = 0.024). When BAC is reported, 69% (360/522) simply indicate the presence of BAC, 23% (121/522) provide a subjective grading of BAC burden, and 1% (6/522) calculate a BAC score. Among the radiologists reporting BAC, 58% (301/522) make no subsequent recommendations, while the remainder recommend primary care follow-up (39%; 204/522), cardiology evaluation (13%; 68/522), and/or coronary calcium scoring CT (11%; 59/522). Overall, there was agreement from 66% (392/598) of respondents that BAC is a cardiovascular risk factor. However, there was no consensus on whether patients and/or providers should be informed about BAC or whether reporting of BAC should become a standardized practice in breast imaging. Older and more experienced radiologists are more likely to agree that BAC is a cardiovascular risk factor (p = 0.022), providers should be informed about BAC (p = 0.002 and 0.006), BAC reporting should be a standardized practice (p = 0.004 and 0.001), and feel more comfortable informing patients about BAC (p = 0.001 and 0.003).

      Conclusion

      Radiologists’ reporting practices and perceptions regarding BAC are not homogeneous. Although many radiologists report BAC to varying degrees, it is not routinely reported or recommended for follow-up in mammogram reports. Experienced radiologists are more likely to include and value BAC in their breast imaging practice.

      Key Words

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