Area Hospital Offers 3-D Mammography

Published 06/02 2014 02:25PM

Updated 06/02 2014 05:45PM

HUNTINGDON - Hospitals in our region upgraded to digital mammography in recent years and now one has taken its technology a step further. JC Blair hospital in Huntingdon now offers 3-D mammograms.

The scientific name for it is tomosynthesis and doctors say it doubles the cancer detection rate.

This 3D mammography machine at JC Blair captures several slices of the breast at different angles and brings the images together to create a clear 3D reconstruction.
Radiologist Dr. Maria Pettinger says, "because I have 3-D, I  can switch into the other imaging plans and I can go through there, and you can see this is just normal structural elements that are all laid on top of each other."

In other words,it's not a tumor.

Tomosynthesis lets the radiologist look at  breast tissue one slice at a time, to see what may or may not be hidden there.

Dr. Pettinger says JC Blair's rate for early breast cancer detection has doubled since the hosptial started using the new technology.

"I think we've had 7 women now that I've  found cancers on that I could not see on the 2-D images that I can clearly see on the 3-D images." she explains.

After a 3-D mammogram, Pat Bowman from Huntingdon had a small cancerous mass, 3/16th of an inch, removed last September.

"With my case it was caught very early on," she says, "and all of the results have been great."

Because her cancer was detected early, Pat was spared radiation and chemotherapy, and now takes a breast cancer prevention drug.

Dr Pettinger says the clarity of the images also helps her avoid bringing patients back in for further testing. "If I can stop having to call one or 2 women back a week, that's a lot of stress I didn't create over  the course of a year," she says.

Tomosynthesis is particularly helpful for women with dense breast tissue  that can be difficult to screen.
Right now 3-D mammography isn't covered by insurance, but JC Blair says it covers whatever costs aren't reimbursed,

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