Scottsdale Medical Imaging (SMIL) was one of the first healthcare providers in the nation to offer breast tomosynthesis, otherwise known as 3D mammography. The latest advance in breast cancer detection, 3D mammography allows SMIL radiologists to see through dense breast tissue or overlapping tissue in the breast, sometimes a limiting factor on regular 2D mammograms. Early clinical trials of this promising new FDA-Approved technology suggest increased breast cancer detection rates and a reduction in the number of false positive results.
What is Breast Tomosynthesis?
3D Mammography is a technology that utilizes high-powered computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin image layers or “slices” – building what is essentially a “3-dimensional mammogram.” With this 3D mammography technology, SMIL’s breast imaging physicians (radiologists) can now view breast tissue detail in a way never before possible – examining breast tissue one layer at a time allowing fine details to be more clearly visible, no longer hidden by the tissue above or below.
Although early in the process, several scientific studies thus far have shown real potential for 3D mammography to both increase breast cancer detection as well as reduce “call-backs” (the number of times that a woman may have to come back for additional images). Fewer call-backs reduce a woman’s exposure to radiation and the personal stress often associated with additional imaging.
What to Expect During a 3D Mammogram Exam?
A breast tomosynthesis 3D exam is very similar to a traditional 2D mammogram, requiring similar compression and identical positioning of the breast. The only difference is that the tomosynthesis camera rotates over the breast in an arc-like fashion to provide both the 2D standard of care images as well as 3D breast imaging information.
During the breast tomosynthesis exam, a series of images are taken providing an in-depth look at the breast tissue allowing for more detailed evaluation. The 3D images are utilized in addition to the 2D images taken at the same time allowing radiologists to search for valuable additional information. The radiation dose of a combined 2D/3D exam is roughly twice that of a standard digital mammogram but remains a very low dose and well below the regulated safety levels for mammography.
3D mammography is available at SMIL to any patient (or ordering physician) who requests it. If a patient does not specifically request 3D mammography, it will still be offered but may be declined without compromising the care SMIL will provide.
Breast Tomosynthesis – Innovation and Expertise in Breast Imaging
Hologic’s tomosynthesis imaging was approved by the FDA in February 2011 but the technology has been almost a decade in the making. While several centers in the Phoenix metro area may claim to be the ‘first’ to have breast tomosynthesis, SMIL is proud be have been involved in the pre-FDA national research trials and was the only site in Arizona to have a tomosynthesis unit two years before it was FDA-approved. As a result, SMIL’s breast imaging physicians (radiologists) already possess years of experience and detailed understanding in the ground-breaking technology. The value of any breast imaging technology continues to depend heavily on the expertise of the physician interpreting the results.
At SMIL, we see 3D mammography as promising and potentially representing the next generation for breast cancer detection. In our continued efforts to provide cutting-edge, yet data-driven care, we have partnered with academic medical centers across the country to create a registry study of 100,000 women in an effort to scientifically validate the power of this new technology. While that data is being collected and national guidelines are being developed, we are committed to responsible use of this promising new technology and feel strongly that its promotion should remain informed and ethical.
SMIL is committed to the fight against breast cancer. Thank you for entrusting us to be an important part of your healthcare.