Doctors at UI Hospitals & Clinics Breast Imaging Center of Excellence are using new technology known as tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, to help with early detection of breast cancer.
For women undergoing a breast cancer screening, the value lies in what is more visible: with the new technology radiologists are better able to “see through” the layers of breast tissue. This means that smaller tumors are more easily detected and that normal breast tissues that sometime mimic abnormal lesions can be correctly identified without the need to have the woman return for additional breast imaging.
Breast tomosynthesis gives doctors a three-dimensional view of the breast by converting digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers. A mammogram using breast tomosynthesis works much the same as a standard mammogram with the addition of a sweep by the X-ray arm in a slight arc over the breast, taking several pictures in just seconds.
From these images, a computer builds a three-dimensional image of the breast – one that allows doctors to “pull away” layers of the image to get a more complete view of all the breast tissue because finer details are more visible.
Doctors at the UI Breast Imaging Center of Excellence, both at the main location and the new UI Health Care - Iowa River Landing site, use tomosynthesis in conjunction with a standard mammogram, using the same positioning and X-ray exposure to acquire both sets of data. With X-ray images taken only once--rather than once for each set--doctors are able to minimize the amount of radiation exposure for the patient. UI Breast Imaging Radiologists were instrumental in developing and testing this technology and, thus, have several years’ experience interpreting digital breast tomosynthesis examinations.