Same-day readings lessen mammogram stress

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The wait for mammogram results can be as stressful as the test itself for some women. To alleviate some of the worry, Wilson Medical Center’s Outpatient Imaging Center is offering same-day test results for mammograms.

“We want to make sure we can reduce patients’ anxiety any way we can,” said Lisa Skinner, radiology services supervisor, outpatient imaging. “People are worried about results until they get the results.”

Skinner said radiologists read all of the day’s mammograms at the same time each afternoon, called “batch reading,” and patients are called between 3 and 5 p.m. with results.

Staff members have received positive feedback from patients, who didn’t have to worry for several days if everything was OK.

If the patient needs a repeat mammogram for additional views, she is told that during the call as well. “It doesn’t mean something is wrong,” Skinner emphasized, it just means the patient needs a follow-up visit for more testing. Staff members try to schedule the follow-up within 24 hours, she added.

If the radiologist sees something more alarming, the patient’s doctor is called first, Skinner said. Then the radiology technicians request that the doctor’s office call in the same promised time frame.

Outpatient Imaging Center performs an average of 35 mammograms each day, Skinner said. “A lot of people need mammograms,” she added.

Patients can choose between 3-D mammograms or 2-D, also known as digital. Additional, more detailed views of a woman’s breast are seen with 3-D mammography.

More women have been choosing 3-D on the clinic’s Hologic equipment since June 1, when Blue Cross Blue Shield started paying for 3-D mammography screening. Skinner said the increase has been “significant.”

Women were not choosing 3-D if their insurance didn’t pick up the $60 cost before, she said. Medicare also pays the cost.

The imaging center takes walk-in patients from 1 to 4 p.m. for screenings and does not require a referral from a physician.

Carolina Breast Imaging in Wilson also offers same-day mammography appointments and welcomes walk-in patients. They don’t require a physician referral either, according to Dr. Bruce F. Schroeder, owner and medical director.

“All mammograms are done using 3-D with no out-of-pocket cost if the insurance plan does not cover 3-D yet,” he said.

Carolina Breast Imaging offers results while the patient waits, if that’s what she requests, Schroeder said, but he does not encourage it.

“There is published medical literature that shows that reading screenings in batches after the patients have left is more accurate and results in lower false positive readings,” he said.

lisa@wilsontimes.com | 265-7810