St. Joseph’s Adopts the Latest in Breast Imaging Technology

June 07, 2018

St. Joseph's will be one of eight Canadian centres taking part in a U.S. study comparing the standard two-dimensional mammography to tomosynthesis, looking at whether tomosynthesis should be used as a screening tool. Currently, the technology is not approved for routine breast screening in Ontario.

The latest wave in breast imaging technology has arrived at St. Joseph's Hospital in London and is making a significant difference in precision and confidence in diagnosing or ruling out breast cancer.

Contrast-enhanced mammography and tomosynthesis (three-dimensional mammography), are both now in use by Breast Care Program of St. Joseph's Health Care London. The cutting-edge, new imaging tools are resulting in more accurate diagnoses, reducing the need for follow-up visits, decreasing unnecessary biopsies, enhancing critical information required by breast surgeons, and speeding up the overall diagnostic process, which improves access to breast assessment for all patients.

"We have been practicing the same way for 30 years," says Dr. Anat Kornecki, Breast Radiology Lead at St. Joseph's. "Now change has arrived, and it's here. It shifts the entire paradigm of how we think when it comes to assessing breast abnormalities."

In July 2017, St. Joseph's became the first hospital in Canada to install the Senographe Pristina mammography machine from GE Healthcare, a groundbreaking new breast imaging platform designed to increase patient comfort and make the exam easier and faster. Since being installed, the unit has been used for routine breast screening at St. Joseph's. Three additional

Senographe Pristina units are now in place for breast assessment and diagnosis – when an abnormality has been found. These new units have the added capability of performing contrast-enhanced mammograms and tomosynthesis.

With contrast-enhanced mammography, the area of concern within the breast is highlighted in much more detail and can be an alternative to MRI, says Dr. Kornecki. It can pinpoint cancers that can't be seen with standard mammography and is particularly effective in assessing dense breasts. 

"When the contrast mammogram rules out the presence of cancer, we can trust that there is nothing there. If cancer is detected, it tells us how extensive it is."

Tomosynthesis, meanwhile, creates three-dimensional images of the breast, providing radiologists with many more views than is possible with a standard mammogram. It also eliminates overlapping shadows of a standard mammogram, reducing callbacks of patients.

St. Joseph's will be one of eight Canadian centres taking part in a U.S. study comparing the standard two-dimensional mammography to tomosynthesis, looking at whether tomosynthesis should be used as a screening tool. Currently, the technology is not approved for routine breast screening in Ontario.

Read the full story on St. Joseph's website.

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