3D mammograms are life-savers, San Antonio doctors say

Sep 11, 2013, 4:22pm CDT - BY SHARI L. BIEDIGER, FREELANCE WRITER

Google the term “waiting for a mammogram” and instantly it’s clear what terms are driving the SEO — frustration and anxiety.

For years, women have had to wait — first for the appointment, then in the waiting room, again in the imaging area and at home for the results. Only to have the vicious cycle repeat itself should suspicious results emerge.

Enter the 3D mammogram, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, The machine better identifies abnormalities, delivers immediate results — reducing the wait-time angst and the unnecessary procedures.

In San Antonio, three locations now offer 3D mammography, Avestée Women’s Imaging Center, Nix Medical Center and Baptist Breast Center.

Avestée Women’s Imaging Center, founded by Dr. Suzanne Dabbous was one of the first imaging centers to offer the technology.

Whether they come to me or go elsewhere, every woman should get a 2D/3D combo mode mammogram,” Dabbous says. “If you are going to get a mammogram, why would you settle for anything but the best technology available read by highly trained dedicated women’s imagers?

Goodbye antiseptic experience - Avestée Women’s Imaging Center specializes in a 2D/3D combo mammogram — 2D being the kind most women are familiar with, along with a digital breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammogram.

What’s more, the center is spa-inspired — with a waiting area that feels more like a friend’s sunlit, cozy and elegant living room — and personal, sensory touches such as candles and heated gowns.

When local CPA Kim Weilbacher learned that her mother, Mildred Spreen, had found a lump in her breast and the doctor was suggesting an urgent mammogram, she moved fast to bring Spreen to Avestée.

Upon arrival at the Hill Country ranch-style building in Alamo Heights, Spreen was offered a fresh cup of coffee, a warm, luxurious robe, and a chilled lavender eye mask.

After a positive 3D mammogram result, Spreen was sent directly into the ultrasound room at Avestée. Then, her biopsy was performed onsite, and her results were delivered immediately. The prognosis is very good, says her daughter, Weilbacher.

Digital breast tomosynthesis

Pioneered by radiologists at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and approved in 2011 by the U.S. Food Drug Administration, 3D mammograms reportedly increase detection of invasive breast cancer by 47 percent.

Tomosynthesis machines look similar to other mammography machines, but the x-ray tube moves in an arc over the patient — capturing both the standard mammogram and the tomosynthesis in one compression. The result is multiple, low-dose images of the breast, synthesized into a 3D data set. A radiologist can look through that data set one layer at a time — like a deck of cards — to see behind and beside structures within the breast tissue. “Scanning the breast one layer at a time makes it possible to find cancers that aren’t visible in a standard mammogram,” Dabbous explains.

In a traditional 2D mammogram, for instance, normal glandular tissue can be superimposed on top of itself, mimicking a tumor on the scan.

“If you’re unlucky, your tumor could occur where you have these glands, and the glands hide it.”

Radiologists call this a double jeopardy situation — more risk of developing cancer added to reduced likelihood the cancer can be detected by mammography alone.

Women with dense breast tissue who have only a 2D mammogram often are asked to return to the radiologist. But the additional scans result in unnecessary anxiety, cost, time and radiation for the patient — especially considering 90 percent result in a normal reading.

In early trials of 3D mammography, those call-backs were reduced by 35 percent.

Physician  Nancy Rector-Finney, M.D., sends many of her patients to Avestée. “Women in their 40s and 50s, women with lumpy or fibrocystic changes, breast reductions or implants all can benefit from 2D/3D. This morning, I saw 20 patients, and I probably sent her 10 of those,” says Rector-Finney. Dabbous, a graduate of the UT Health Science Center of San Antonio and a board certified radiologist, expects advanced technology will become the standard across the nation.

SHARI L. BIEDIGER is a San Antonio freelance writer.

Original article at http://www.bizjournals.com

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