The second tomosynthesis mammography unit that is currently being installed at the Breast Imaging Center (BIC) is a Hologic Selenia Dimensions mammography system. This equipment is the first FDA-approved 3-D mammography machine in the United States. Marketing for this particular machine began in February 2011. The system utilizes 3-D mammography technology, as does the previous unit that was installed at BIC in September 2014. In order to grow our practice and to offer our patients and providers flexibility in scheduling, a second tomosynthesis unit at the breast center was imperative. The second unit is expected to be operational in the next few weeks.
Why is 3-D Mammography a better option?
During 3-D/tomosynthesis mammography, multiple images are acquired in a moving "arc" across the breast. Tomosynthesis mammography allows a radiologist to scroll through a set of sequentially obtained images such that the layers of breast tissue can be evaluated independently in much the same way that a radiologist scrolls through a CT scan. In effect, the breast parenchyma is separated, which results in a decrease of overlapping fibroglandular tissue. This is opposed to the older technology of digital 2-D mammography, where only 2 orthogonal images of each breast are obtained for a typical screening study. Overlap of fibroglandular tissue on 2-D mammography can sometimes obscure breast cancers. Of particular clinical importance is that fact that there is no significant difference in radiation between the 2-D and 3-D mammograms using the Hologic system.
What are the benefits?
The benefits of 3-D mammography based upon extensive literature include increased detection of breast cancer, particularly small invasive cancers that might not have been otherwise detectable, and decreased call-back rates. At the BIC Facility, Dr. Fitzpatrick and Dr. Borders have already found similar initial results. Their cancer detection rate has increased from 5.9/1000 to 8.6/1000, which equals an increase of approximately 46%. The already low call-back rate, which is the rate at which patients are asked to return for additional imaging based upon initial screening mammogram findings, has decreased even further from 5.1% to 4.6%. This correlates with a 9.8% overall decrease in the number of patients who are asked to return for additional testing at our facility.
3-D: A better option for better healthcare
Many facilities in Tucson now offer 3-D mammography as an option; however BIC is one of the few centers in town that offers 3-D screening mammography exclusively at no additional charge to their patients. They no longer offer 2-D screening mammography to their patients because 3-D is simply a better exam. Dr. Fitzpatrick and Dr. Borders feel very strongly about providing their patients with the most optimal study, and so they are pleased that more women will be able to take advantage of 3-D screening mammography at BIC.
To schedule a mammogram, call (520) 694-4034