Angela Kruis, a mammography technician at Altoona Regional for twelve years showed off f the clear images produced by the health system's three new digital mammography machines.
Contrast that with the conventional analog X-rays, being viewed by Interventional Radiologist Dr. Peter James. They're fuzzier and difficult to read, in younger women with denser breasts. James observed, "with the digital system, we would be able to change the appearance of that , maybe highlight something that could be hiding in there."
Digital mammography allows radiologists to adjust the contrast of the image and zoom in. Dr. James added, "if you look at the statistics, you're just going to detect more cancers , particularly with computer assisted detection which is built into the digital systems in most cases."
He continued, "mainly it's easier to spot the lesions in the dense breasts, that's the main advantage, but you're also better able to see certain kinds of calcifications, which are sometimes missed." Most calcifications are benign, but according to James, digital mammography can offer a clearer picture of those that are malignant.
The mammography test itself is the same for patients but, Angela observed, "we do find compression on these machines is a little more comfortable because it has a little tilt to it."
If the digital image raises a question, the mammography tech can quickly send it to a radiologist for an opinion and it can be redone right away, if necessary. A woman can be spared unnecessary radiation, if the image is okay.
Director of Radiology Michael Corso pointed out that the new set-up at the Station Medical Center allows women to go right into the mammography area, which includes breast ultrasound, and bone density scanning, and is fairly separate from other imaging services.
About half of the cost of the project was funded by donations from the community and hospital staff.