Nipple markers maybe used to decrease the recall of patients undergoing chest radiography by aiding in distinguishing between a nipple shadow and lung nodule. We evaluated the use of digital chest radiographs in clinical practice including accuracy of placement and markers that do not contribute to interpretation (ie, projected outside the lung fields). We also evaluated the recall rate for additional imaging in patients who received nipple markers compared to those who did not.
Material and Methods:
In this Institutional Review Board approved retrospective study, 1000 consecutive outpatient frontal and lateral chest radiographs performed in 2018 for which nipple markers were provided to patients formed the study group. Three cardiothoracic radiologists evaluated the images for the presence of markers and accuracy of placement. The recall rate was calculated over a 3-year period from March 21, 2016 and March 21, 2019.
One or both markers were missing without an explanation (such as mastectomy), misplaced or outside the lung fields in 57.8% (578/1000) of studies. The 3-year recall rate for all chest radiographs was very low (0.03%; 42/135,792) and was lower for patients provided nipple markers (0.007%; 5/62,587) than those who were not (0.05%; 37/73,205) (P<0.001).
The low overall recall rate and high prevalence of inaccurate marker placement or markers that do not contribute to interpretation (ie, outside the lung fields) does not justify the routine use of nipple markers for chest radiography.