Digital mammograms are the gold standard for breast cancer screening. A new device enhances this technology by producing a three-dimensional (3D) image of the breast. Called digital breast tomosynthesis, this change could revolutionize breast cancer screening and diagnosis.
Tomosynthesis obtains a series of 15 low-dose, high-resolution images in a sweeping arc around the breast. This gives radiologists (physicians who specialize in diagnosing and treating diseases and injuries by using medical imaging techniques) individual images of thin layers of breast tissue, producing a clearer, more comprehensive picture than a conventional digital mammogram.
This separation of overlapping breast tissue images increases the accuracy of interpreting changes in the tissue and helps the radiologist find cancers early in their development. A radiologist can display each image (or 1mm slice) to examine it individually and reconstruct the scans into a 3D rendering of the interior architecture of the entire breast.
Mammograms’ Complementary Technology
Two-dimensional (2D) mammograms remain useful. These images provide an essential comparison to a current image. Since most previous mammograms are 2D, a current 2D comparison is necessarily to most accurately determine and identify any changes in the breast. Furthermore, radiologists use 2D exams to detect certain subtle findings, such as tiny calcifications.
Radiologists read 3D and 2D mammograms together in “combo” mode. While 3D minimizes the need to repeat imaging scans by clarifying areas of distortion in overlapping structures, “combo” mode provides the greatest level of sensitivity, which leads to overall improved cancer detection and reduced recall rates.
Patients undergo exposure to a small amount of additional radiation during 3D exams, but the clearer images help reduce the necessity of returning for additional studies–reducing false alarms and unnecessary stress. Furthermore, the 3D mammogram lasts only a few seconds more than a traditional mammogram, with no additional discomfort but enhanced clarity and accuracy.
Where you get your mammogram matters. North Shore-LIJ Imaging‘s specialty-trained radiologists are experts in interpreting scans. You’ll find the latest in digital and 3D imaging at our 20-plus locations. Call 1-855-377-3456 to learn more.