Quality assurance and quality control in mammography: a review of available guidance worldwide

Authors: Cláudia Reis1, 2 , Ana Pascoal3 , Taxiarchis Sakellaris2 and Manthos Koutalonis4

Review available guidance for quality assurance (QA) in mammography and discuss its contribution to harmonise practices worldwide.

Literature search was performed on different sources to identify guidance documents for QA in mammography available worldwide in international bodies, healthcare providers, professional/scientific associations. The guidance documents identified were reviewed and a selection was compared for type of guidance (clinical/technical), technology and proposed QA methodologies focusing on dose and image quality (IQ) performance assessment.

Fourteen protocols (targeted at conventional and digital mammography) were reviewed. All included recommendations for testing acquisition, processing and display systems associated with mammographic equipment. All guidance reviewed highlighted the importance of dose assessment and testing the Automatic Exposure Control (AEC) system. Recommended tests for assessment of IQ showed variations in the proposed methodologies. Recommended testing focused on assessment of low-contrast detection, spatial resolution and noise. QC of image display is recommended following the American Association of Physicists in Medicine guidelines.

The existing QA guidance for mammography is derived from key documents (American College of Radiology and European Union guidelines) and proposes similar tests despite the variations in detail and methodologies. Studies reported on QA data should provide detail on experimental technique to allow robust data comparison. Countries aiming to implement a mammography/QA program may select/prioritise the tests depending on available technology and resources.