Patient Throughput Times for Supplemental Breast Cancer Screening Exams

Main Article Content

Michael Plaza
Denzel Cole
Marcos A. Sanchez-Gonzalez
Christopher J. Starr


Breast MRI, Patient flow, Patient throughput, Breast cancer screening, Breast ultrasound


Background: To optimize screening abbreviated breast MRI (ABMR) operations, patient throughput times of ABMR were compared to breast ultrasound (US) and full protocol breast MRI (FPMR).
Methods: Patient throughput times (mean ± standard error) and its subcomponents were analyzed for 95 ABMRs, 90 breast US exams, and 50 FPMRs. Total patient throughput was measured from registration time to the time of the last acquired image. Actual exam time was time difference between the first and last acquired images and pre-examination time was the calculated difference between throughput and actual exam times.
Results: ABMR total patient throughput time was shorter than FPMR (55.7 ± 1.7 vs. 63.1 ± 2.0 min; difference, 7.4 min, 13%; p<0.001), but longer than breast US (39.1 ± 1.3 min; difference, 16.6 min, 30%; p<0.001). ABMR had shorter actual scan times than FPMR (13.4 ± 0.14 vs. 18.6 ± 0.25 min; p<0.001), but longer than US (9.6 ± 0.46 minutes; p<0.001). There was no difference in the pre-examination times between ABMR and FPMR (42.3 ± 1.7 vs. 44.6 ± 1.9 min; p = 0.357); pre-examination times were longer for both MR exam types compared to US (29.5 ± 1.3 minutes; p<0.001).
Conclusion: ABMR patient throughput times are faster than FPMR, but these gains are limited as they have no impact on pre-examination activities which comprise the lengthiest components of the patient flow process. US patient flow currently remains faster than ABMR; however, comparable ABMR times could be achieved by further omitting certain sequences and optimizing pre-examination processes.


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