A portrait of breast imaging specialists and of the interpretation of mammography in the United States.

Rebecca S. Lewis, Jonathan H. Sunshine, Mythreyi Bhargavan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: Because of the importance of breast imaging as a radiology subspecialty and concerns about malpractice, the purpose of our study is to provide a detailed portrait of breast imaging specialists, their professional activities and practices, and information on all radiologists who interpret mammograms. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We analyzed data from the American College of Radiology's 2003 Survey of Radiologists, a large, stratified random sample survey that achieved a 63% response. Responses were weighted to make them representative of all radiologists in the United States. RESULTS: Approximately 10% of all radiologists, or 2,700-2,800 radiologists, are breast imaging specialists, but 61% of radiologists interpret mammograms, and only approximately 30% of mammograms are interpreted by breast imaging specialists. Of radiologists who reported that breast imaging was their primary specialty, only 21% took a fellowship in the field (much lower than for other subspecialties), 59% spent > or = 50% of their clinical work time in the specialty, 82% interpret > or = 2,000 mammograms annually, and only 11% (also well below other subspecialties) report that the main subspecialty society (the Society of Breast Imaging) is one of the two most important professional organizations for them. On average, breast imaging specialists, like other radiologists, report that their workload is about as heavy as desired. Their level of enjoyment of radiology does not differ significantly from average. CONCLUSION: Breast imaging appears not to be as strongly organized to raise awareness of and support for its problems as are other subspecialties. Although others find evidence of likely future problems, breast imaging specialists are not currently overworked or less satisfied in their profession than other radiologists, despite relatively low revenue generation and a particularly high risk of a malpractice lawsuit.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)W456-468
JournalAJR. American journal of roentgenology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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