Analysis of utilization patterns and associated costs of the breast imaging and diagnostic procedures after screening mammography

Anna Vlahiotis, Brian Griffin, A. Thomas Stavros, Jay Margolis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Little data exist on real-world patterns and associated costs of downstream breast diagnostic procedures following an abnormal screening mammography or clinical exam. Objectives: To analyze the utilization patterns in real-world clinical settings for breast imaging and diagnostic procedures, including the frequency and volume of patients and procedures, procedure sequencing, and associated health care expenditures. Materials and methods: Using medical claims from 2011 to 2015 MarketScan Commercial and Medicare Databases, adult females with breast imaging/diagnostic procedures (diagnostic mammography, ultrasound, molecular breast imaging, tomosynthesis, magnetic resonance imaging, or biopsy) other than screening mammography were selected. Continuous health plan coverage without breast diagnostic procedures was required for ≥13 months before the first found breast diagnostic procedure (index event), with a 13-month post-index follow-up period. Key outcomes included diagnostic procedure volumes, sequences, and payments. Results reported descriptively were projected to provide US national patient and procedure volumes. Results: The final sample of 875,526 patients was nationally projected to 12,394,432 patients annually receiving 8,732,909 diagnostic mammograms (53.3% of patients), 6,987,399 breast ultrasounds (42.4% of patients), and 1,585,856 biopsies (10.3% of patients). Following initial diagnostic procedures, 49.4% had second procedures, 20.1% followed with third procedures, and 10.0% had a fourth procedure. Mean (SD) costs for diagnostic mammograms of US$349 ($493), ultrasounds US$132 ($134), and biopsies US$1,938 ($2,343) contributed US$3.05 billion, US$0.92 billion, and US$3.07 billion, respectively, to annual diagnostic breast expenditures estimated at US$7.91 billion. Conclusion: The volume and expense of additional breast diagnostic testing, estimated at US$7.91 billion annually, underscores the need for technological improvements in the breast diagnostic landscape.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
JournalClinicoEconomics and Outcomes Research
StatePublished - Mar 26 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Breast cancer
  • Diagnosis
  • Expenditures
  • Health care utilization
  • Imaging
  • Mammography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Health Policy


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