During the 3D mammography procedure, the x-ray arm sweeps over the breast, taking multiple images in just seconds. 3D mammography uses high-powered computing to convert the images into a 3D image, which can then be examined by a doctor one “slice” at a time. Fine details are more clearly visible and no longer hidden by the tissue above and below.
The new machine requires just a few seconds longer for a patients’ breast tissue to remain inside the paddles as the state-of- the-art system moves in an arc above them. Tomosyththesis reduces tissue overlap effects and then reconstructs the data to generate images that enhance the visibility of objects. “There are major benefits to having tomosynthesis,” says Goel, who notes that the Imaging Service has a reading station dedicated to reading the 3D images. “The first is that it can more accurately detect small breast cancers that may have remained hidden in the 2D mammographic images. Another benefit is that the ‘slices’ allow better accuracy for seeing normal overlap in the tissue, especially in dense breasts that may falsely appear suspicious in the 2D image.”
The images of the reconstructed tomosynthesis slices are displayed similar to CAT scan images. “The resulting clearer images allow for more confident readings by resolving or revealing suspicious areas digitally as a result of the tomosynthesis,” says Dr. Goel.
“There will substantially fewer call-backs because of more accurate readings, which will result in fewer biopsies, as well as higher cancer detection rates,” says Siegel in discussing the benefits of this new technology for Veteran patients throughout the VA Maryland Health Care System.
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