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Introducing 3D Mammograms

Leading Area Radiology Group Adds Weapons to Their Arsenal in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

Larchmont Medical Imaging recently became one of only a few imaging centers nationwide with FDA approval to provide 3D mammograms (also known as breast tomosynthesis) with new Siemens MAMMOMAT Inspiration mammogram units at all Larchmont locations.

How is tomosynthesis different from a conventional mammogram? And what are the benefits to patients?

"3D breast tomosynthesis is to a 2D mammogram as a CAT scan is to a chest X-ray," said breast imaging specialist Sarah Palestrant M.D., D.A.B.R. "We are now able to take images of the breast at multiple points, rather than the standard two-dimensional view, akin to reviewing slices of bread rather than looking at the whole loaf from one view. We're taking the standard 2D mammography image and then, rather than just having that single view of the breast, we are actually dividing it into multiple slices."

The ability to view multiple layers of breast tissue at different depths makes tomosynthesis more sensitive and specific than conventional two-dimensional mammograms.

"That translates to finding more cancers and saving more lives," Dr. Palestrant said. "Not to be overlooked, it also means fewer callbacks and decreasing patient anxiety."

The Siemens MAMMOMAT Inspiration generates 3D images by rotating around the breast and acquiring an image every two degrees while moving through an angular map of 50 degrees. This creates 25 projections, which the image processing software then reconstructs into three-dimensional images in conjunction with two-dimensional mammogram images.

"With tomosynthesis," Dr. Palestrant said, "we really get two studies in one: a set of conventional mammogram images, plus 3D image slices for additional views."

"Any woman who meets the criteria for having regular screening mammograms can benefit from tomosynthesis instead of conventional 2D mammography," Dr. Palestrant said. "So we view it as an appropriate modality for routine screenings. In New Jersey, insured patients who have extremely dense breasts—including Medicare recipients—can expect coverage. For the other 50 percent of the population, however, the insurance status has yet to be determined. But I'm optimistic about that because it's clear that reducing the need for additional studies, as well as finding cancers at earlier, more treatable stages, will also reduce overall costs for breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment."

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