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The addition of dedicated dual-head gamma imaging to screening mammography yielded significantly improved sensitivity while maintaining equivalent specificity in women with mammographically dense breasts.


To compare performance characteristics of dedicated dual-head gamma imaging and mammography in screening women with mammographically dense breasts.

Materials and Methods

Asymptomatic women (n = 1007) who had heterogeneously or extremely dense breasts on prior mammograms and additional risk factors provided informed consent to enroll in an institutional review board–approved HIPAA-compliant protocol. Participants underwent mammography and gamma imaging after a 740-mBq (20-mCi) technetium 99m sestamibi injection. Reference standard (more severe cancer diagnosis or 12-month follow-up findings) was available for 936 of 969 eligible participants. Diagnostic yield, sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive values (PPVs) were determined for mammography, gamma imaging, and both combined.


Of 936 participants, 11 had cancer (one with mammography only, seven with gamma imaging only, two with both combined, and one with neither). Diagnostic yield was 3.2 per 1000 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.1, 9.3) for mammography, 9.6 per 1000 (95% CI: 5.1, 18.2) for gamma imaging, and 10.7 per 1000 (95% CI: 5.8, 19.6) for both (P = .016 vs mammography alone). One participant had a second ipsilateral cancer detected with gamma imaging only. Prevalent screening gamma imaging demonstrated equivalent specificity relative to incident screening mammography (93% [861 of 925] vs 91% [840 of 925], P = .069). Of eight cancers detected with gamma imaging only, six (75%) were invasive (median size, 1.1 cm; range, 0.4–5.1 cm); all were node negative. The ratio of the number of patients with breast cancer per number of screening examinations with abnormal findings was 3% (three of 88) for mammography and 12% (nine of 73) for gamma imaging (P = .01). The number of breast cancers diagnosed per number of biopsies performed was 18% (three of 17) for mammography and 28% (10 of 36) for gamma imaging (P = .36).


Addition of gamma imaging to mammography significantly increased detection of node-negative breast cancer in dense breasts by 7.5 per 1000 women screened (95% CI: 3.6, 15.4). To be clinically important, gamma imaging will need to show equivalent performance at decreased radiation doses.

© RSNA, 2010

Clinical trial registration no. NCT00620373

Supplemental material:


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Article History

Received March 24, 2010; revision requested May 4; final revision received July 13; accepted July 28; final version accepted August 11.
Published online: Jan 2011
Published in print: Jan 2011