Women's Life Imaging Center Provides 3-D Mammography

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Women's Life Imaging Center recent acquisition of two Hologic Selena Dimensions 3D mammogram machines, has become a leader in mammographic technology, as it is the sole establishment on the Seacoast that provides the latest in breast cancer screening and diagnostic tools and methods.

The facility mainly receives and treats patients from Wentworth-Douglass Hospital in Dover and Frisbie Memorial Hospital in Rochester as both institutions do not offer mammography screenings themselves.

"But we have a lot of women who come from Maine and even northern Massachusetts," adds Operations Manager for the Center, Beth Beaudin. "There are other 3D machines in the state, but none that I know of in Maine."3dmammography

It is commonly known amongst physicians and women that early detection is often crucial and plays a major role in diagnosing and treating breast cancer. Over the last few years, mammograms have come under heavy fire for failing to identify some breast cancers due to breast tissue density. While other professionals claim that mammograms tend to over-react that lead to otherwise unnecessary biopsies. 

Yet the new digital 3D mammogram called breast tomosynthesis, is a ground-breaking technology that allows radiologists the means to detect and classify individual breast structures without the confusion of overlying tissue.

Unlike an immobile 2D digital mammogram system, the X-ray arm of the breast tomosynthesis posses the ability to span 15 degrees above the breast, documenting several different images in one setting. The radiologist is also able to view the breast tissue in one-millimeter layers.

"There is much better visualization of the breast tissue. Things jump out more that may have been hidden before,” said supervisor of the technologists at the center, Cheri Farnham.

Farnham compared it to looking at a 3D image of a cloud with the ability to see inside that cloud.

"Doctors are able to see more and be more confident in their findings. In many cases, it reduces the 'dreaded call-back' for additional views,” said Beaudin.

By use of the 3D mammography technology, radiologists can sift through images of the breast with gentle ease, as one would flip through a newspaper or book.

The examine itself is identical to the 2D digital procedure, however there is no added density needed and it requires a few seconds longer to view each image.

"The only downside right now is the storage system. They are huge files and we need to have the capacity to store them,” said Beaudin.

Women's Life Imaging Center has nine radiology technicians and two dedicated radiologists from Seacoast Radiology to read the mammograms on the spot. As for a screening mammogram, data is delivered to the patient’s physician within 28 to 48 hours.

The patient then meets with the radiologist to look at methods of additional testing, like breast ultrasound and/or biopsy, which is performed at the center.

"We do about 62 to 70 mammograms a day. In addition, we do about 12 to 18 breast ultrasounds a day and 40 to 50 biopsies each month,” said Beaudin.

The center also provides bone densitometry exams, having received its authorization from the American College of Radiology.

"We also have a program called 'Peace of Mind' for women with a low income or no insurance. No woman should say she didn't have her yearly mammogram because she couldn't afford it,” said Beaudin.

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