Friday, October 19, 2001

Hospital debuts fully digital mammography machine

GE device, first in town, provides images in 10 seconds

By Tim Bonfield
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        University Hospital has become the first in town to install a completely digital mammography machine to check women for signs of breast cancer.

        The Senographe 2000D, made by GE Medical Systems, takes X-ray images of the breast in a digital form rather than using film.

        That means the images can be viewed within 10 seconds, which is expected to reduce the paperwork and inconvenience when occasionally women are called back for repeat scans because of technical faults.

        The device also should make it easier for doctors to capture good images of younger women, who tend to have higher density breast tissue, which can be harder to read, said Dr. Mary Mahoney, a radiologist and director of the Breast Imaging Center at University Hospital.

        “Women won't notice much of a difference because this is still an X-ray procedure. From the woman's point of view the mammography will look and feel the same,” Dr. Mahoney said.

        Digital mammogram images also can be stored without filing films. The pictures can be manipulated on the computer to filter out distracting elements or enhance areas of concern.

        And the images can be easily transferred by computer among doctors in different locations to get second opinions or if a patient changes doctors.

        Several Tristate hospitals have recently added computer systems that convert regular X-ray films into digital form so they can be more accurately read. But the new machine at University Hospital takes that process a step further, said Dr. Mahoney.

        With the images appearing instantly on a computer screen, a glitch can be spotted and a second mammogram done before the patient even gets dressed. Previously, it could take days to schedule a repeat.

        For now, the digital machine is one of several mammography devices at University Hospital and its satellites. But as other machines come up for replacement, Dr. Mahoney predicted, many Tristate facilities will convert to fully digital. Steven M. Herppich
       Mammography technician Kelley Johnson, demonstrates University Hospital's new fully digital mammography machine. It eliminates film and gets results faster.


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