In detection of breast cancer, what are the advantages of 3D imaging? 7 questions with Geoffrey Smith, M.D.
By Kristy Bleizeffer May 23, 2016
Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women. To treat it, you must find it. The earlier the cancer is detected, the greater the chance of crafting an effective treatment plan.
Unfortunately, 2D mammography doesn’t always deliver clear results. Traditional 2D mammograms suffer from decreasing sensitivity as the density of a woman’s breast tissue increases, or when breast tissue overlaps. This can result in unclear images that leave radiologist unsure of what they see, and can lead to cancers being missed.
Outpatient Radiology now offers True Breast Tomosynthesis. This state-of-the-art 3D mammogram technology is proven to detect breast cancer better than traditional 2D mammography alone. Here, diagnostic and interventional radiologist Geoffrey Smith, M.D., answers seven questions about digital tomosynthesis.
1. What is digital tomosynthesis?
Digital tomosynthesis is an enhancement to mammography that allows the acquisition and display of images which are “slices” of the breast. These slices allow us to see different portions of the breast without being encumbered by overlapping structures from other portions of the breast.
2. How is it different than traditional mammography?
Traditional mammography creates a shadow of the entire breast, all on a single image. Tomosynthesis allows us to look only at a small portion of the breast at a time, increasing the sensitivity of the exam, and decreasing the frequency a patient is called back for special mammographic views of the breast.
3. How is the 3D tomosynthesis exam performed and do you still need to compress the breast?
Tomosynthesis is performed like a standard mammogram, except that the patient will notice the x-ray tube move during the imaging. Compression is very important for quality mammography, and is still vital for the best possible examination.
4. How does the radiologist then read the images?
Images are transferred to a dedicated electronic workstation for interpretation by the radiologist.
5. What are the advantages of 3D tomosynthesis?
The examination increases the sensitivity of mammography to detect small breast tumors, while significantly decreasing the rate of “call back” examinations.
6. Is the radiation dose higher in 3D breast tomosynthesis?
No, the overall radiation dose is comparable to standard mammography.
7. What is the cost?
Medicare currently covers the 3D tomosynthesis component of mammogram exam; however, the 3D tomosynthesis component is not currently covered by a number of commercial insurance companies. The cost for the 3D tomosynthesis component of the mammogram exam is $65. Non-Medicare patients will be asked to pay for the 3D tomosynthesis component at the time of service. If the patient’s insurance company covers the 3D tomosynthesis part of the exam, their payment will be refunded.
Call (307) 232-5012 to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Smith is board certified in general radiology. He earned his medical degree and completed both his internship and residency at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He joined Casper Medical Imaging and Outpatient Radiology in 1991.