September 27, 2013 - Escanaba, Michigan

OSF St. Francis Introduces 3D Mammography

Health care professionals call it “the latest breakthrough in mammography.”  Radiologic technologist Amy Streichert says it’s a “remarkable step forward.”  And her patients at OSF St. Francis Hospital & Medical Group are “not just surprised, but astounded.”

 What “it” is?  Breast tomosynthesis, also called 3D mammography.

“Tomosynthesis is a new type of mammogram that produces a three-dimensional image of the breast,” said Streichert.  “The imaging machine moves around the breast in an arc, seven degrees to the left, seven to the right, taking 15 different pictures in all.  This results in multiple x-rays that the computer forms into a 3-D image.  By comparison, conventional 2-D mammography produces a single, flattened image of the breast, making cancer detection more challenging for physicians.

Diagnostic Imaging | 3D Mammography“Another benefit is the computer uses the 3D images to generate 2D views where needed, so we only do one mammogram. Thus the radiation absorption to the patient during the 3D imaging is very similar to but slightly higher than the 2D exam.”

OSF is the first hospital in the Upper Peninsula to offer this new technology. Several years ago, OSF was also one of the leaders in introducing digital mammography to the U.P.

“These two technologies together make it easier for physicians to manipulate breast images, for such reasons as magnifying an area of concern,” explained Streichert.  “We are able to offer better detection, fewer call backs and greater peace of mind.”

The 3D mammography procedure feels the same as standard mammography, noted Streichert, a 10-year radiology veteran who’s also responsible for quality control.  “If the patient is interested, I take them behind the screen to see their images; they’re typically astounded. For a smaller facility to have such advanced technology is such a blessing.  We are making a tremendous impact on the health of women in our community.”

She noted the standard of care for mammography remains having an initial exam at age 40 and annually thereafter.

“Breast self-exam is also very important, but simply not enough,” she stressed. 

Benefits of 3D mammography include:

  • Earlier Detection – Especially small breast cancers which might be hidden during 2D (traditional mammography
  • Greater Accuracy in pinpointing size, shape and location of abnormalities
  • Fewer Concerns – including a reduction in the number of additional tests or biopsies
  • Greater Precision – enabling physicians to more easily detect abnormalities, including multiple breast tumors (occurring in 15% of breast cancer patients)

Some say a picture’s worth a thousand words.  For Radiologist Stephen Manier, MD, the pictures are worth thousands of lives. For the past two decades, Dr. Manier has used his skills, knowledge and experience in imaging to both diagnose and treat disease.

“Radiologists use an array of imaging technologies,” he said.  Resources include X-ray radiography, ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), nuclear medicine, positron emission tomography (PET) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and now the new 3D mammography recently unveiled at OSF.

“Detecting breast cancer can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. Breast tissue tends to hide things, and the more dense the breast, the more difficult the challenge.  But you follow criteria and look for patterns, subtle distortions. It’s as much an art as a science. Because the new equipment allows me to see between densities it will definitely make it easier to pinpoint an abnormality.  There will be earlier detection as well as fewer false positives.”

Women are advised to talk to their OB/GYN or primary care provider for guidance on breast health and the best options for their unique needs.

Lanna Scannell, Manager of Community & Public Relations
(906) 786-5707 x5516