MANCHESTER, CONNECTICUT - Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN) recently installed a full-field digital mammography unit and a stereotactic biopsy unit at Manchester Memorial Hospital. Both of these state-of-the-art technologies are good news for women.
Digital mammography provides decreased exam times, increased comfort, and greater detection capabilities than film-based mammography. The image of the breast is captured using a special electronic X-ray detector instead of film, which converts the image into a digital picture for review on a computer monitor. The radiologist is then able to manipulate the image for better breast cancer detection. In addition, while the radiation dose from both film and digital mammography are low, further dose reduction is an added benefit in women with dense breasts. Although digital mammography still requires breast compression, it provides the image on the computer monitor in less than a minute, which lessens the amount of time required to perform the screening.
A stereotactic biopsy is performed when a mammogram shows a breast abnormality, such as a suspicious solid mass, microcalcifications (a tiny cluster of small calcium deposits), a distortion in the structure of the breast tissue, an area of abnormal tissue change, and when a new mass or area of calcium deposits is present at a previous surgery site. It is a nonsurgical method of assessing a breast abnormality. The stereotactic biopsy unit's mammography capability pinpoints the exact location of the abnormality by using X-rays taken from two different angles and a computer. Using the computer coordinates, the radiologist inserts the needle through the skin to the area identified and removes tissue samples for examination by a pathologist. Prior to the needle insertion, the radiologist injects a local anesthetic to numb the area.
"We are pleased to be able to offer these services to the women and physicians in our community," says Denise Rioux, Assistant Director of Medical Imaging. "Early detection is key in the treatment of breast cancer and for survival."