Improving the Accuracy of Clinical Breast Exams.

Improving the Accuracy of Clinical Breast Exams

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine concluded that sensor technology has the potential to significantly improve the teaching of proper techniques for clinical breast exams. In the study researchers asked 553 practicing physicians during an annual clinical meeting to perform simulated clinical breast exams (CBE) under conditions that mimic an office visit for a symptomatic patient. participants completed a demographic survey, reviewed a clinical senario, performed the CBE on a sensor-enabled breast model, and then documented their findings. Researchers hoped to capture CBE technique while clinicians were evaluating the model for a mass. Results showed that physicians who palpated fewer than 10 newtons (a common measurement of force) were able to find two superficial masses on the breast model but missed the two deeper ones. Physicians increasing the amount of palpable pressure unproved the probability of identifying the deeper lesions. It was suggested that the optimum palpable force for deeper lesions is between 12 and 17 newtons. Researchers found that 15 percent of physicians in the study used a technique that put them at significant risk of missing deep tissue lesions near the chest wall. Researchers suggested considering mastery training in the health care professions to overcome this problem.

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