Breast MRI BI-RADS assessments and abnormal interpretation rates by clinical indication in us community practices

Christoph I. Lee, Laura Ichikawa, Michele C. Rochelle, Karla Kerlikowske, Diana L Miglioretti, Brian L. Sprague, Wendy B. DeMartini, Karen J. Wernli, Bonnie N. Joe, Bonnie C. Yankaskas, Constance D. Lehman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Rationale and Objectives: As breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) use grows, benchmark performance parameters are needed for auditing and quality assurance purposes. We describe the variation in breast MRI abnormal interpretation rates (AIRs) by clinical indication among a large sample of US community practices. Materials and Methods: We analyzed data from 41 facilities across five Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium imaging registries. Each registry obtained institutional review board approval for this Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliant analysis. We included 11,654 breast MRI examinations conducted in 2005-2010 among women aged 18-79years. We categorized clinical indications as 1) screening, 2) extent of disease, 3) diagnostic (eg, breast symptoms), and 4) other (eg, short-interval follow-up). We characterized assessments as positive (ie, Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System [BI-RADS] 0, 4, and 5) or negative (ie, BI-RADS 1, 2, and 6) and provide results with BI-RADS 3 categorized as positive and negative. We tested for differences in AIRs across clinical indications both unadjusted and adjusted for patient characteristics and registry and assessed for changes in AIRs by year within each clinical indication. Results: When categorizing BI-RADS 3 as positive, AIRs were 21.0% (95% confidence interval [CI], 19.8-22.3) for screening, 31.7% (95% CI, 29.6-33.8) for extent of disease, 29.7% (95% CI, 28.3-31.1) for diagnostic, and 27.4% (95% CI, 25.0-29.8) for other indications (P<.0001). When categorizing BI-RADS 3 as negative, AIRs were 10.5% (95% CI, 9.5-11.4) for screening, 21.8% (95% CI, 19.9-23.6) for extent of disease, 17.7% (95% CI, 16.5-18.8) for diagnostic, and 13.3% (95% CI, 11.6-15.2) for other indications (P<.0001). The significant differences in AIRs by indication persisted even after adjusting for patient characteristics and registry (P<.0001). In addition, for most indications, there were no significant changes in AIRs over time. Conclusions: Breast MRI AIRs differ significantly by clinical indication. Practices should stratify breast MRI examinations by indication for quality assurance and auditing purposes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1370-1376
Number of pages7
JournalAcademic Radiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Audit
  • Breast magnetic resonance imaging
  • Quality assurance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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