Michaels AY, Birdwell RL, Chung CS, Frost EP, Giess CS. Assessment and Management of Challenging BI-RADS Category 3 Mammographic Lesions. Radiographics. 2016 Sep-Oct;36(5):1261-72. doi: 10.1148/rg.2016150231. Epub 2016 Aug 19. Review.PubMed PMID: 27541437.
Breast Imaging Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS) category 3 lesions are probably benign by definition and are recommended for short-interval follow-up after a diagnostic workup has been completed. Although the original lexicon-derived BI-RADS category 3 definition applied to lesions without prior imaging studies (when stability could not be determined), in clinical practice, many lesions with prior images may be assigned to BI-RADS category 3. Although the BI-RADS fifth edition specifically delineates lesions that are appropriate for categorization as probably benign, it also specifies that the interpreting radiologist may use his or her discretion and experience to justify a “watchful waiting” approach for lesions that do not meet established criteria. Examples of such lesions include evolving masses or calcifications suggestive of prior trauma and instances when stability cannot be ascertained because of image quality. Although interval change is an important feature of malignancy, many benign lesions also change over time; thus, use of prior imaging studies and ongoing imaging surveillance to demonstrate the evolution of a probably benign lesion is justified. Some examples of common pitfalls associated with inappropriate BI-RADS category 3 assessment include failure to use proper BI-RADS descriptors, failure to perform a complete diagnostic workup, and overreliance on negative ultrasonographic findings. When appropriately used, short-interval follow-up saves many patients from undergoing biopsy of benign lesions, without decreasing the rate of cancer detection.
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