June 1st, 2006

This summer, Great River Medical Center will be among the first hospitals in Iowa to use a new digital mammography system that significantly enhances physicians’ abilities to detect and diagnose breast cancer in patients. The innovative digital system provides outstanding image quality and clear, highly detailed images of the breast.

“Great River Medical Center’s physicians and the area’s patients have a new and powerful tool in the detection and fight against breast cancer,” said Greg Fields, director of the hospital’s Diagnostic Imaging Department. “This new, all-digital system provides our patients with mammograms that are faster, easier and more comfortable than ever before, while providing our physicians with highly detailed images to use in the diagnosis.”

According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed among 211,240 women and 1,690 men in 2006, and an estimated 40,870 women and 460 men will die of this disease. In Iowa, it is estimated that breast cancer will affect more than 2,000 people this year.

“This new digital technology will help us provide the most advanced care for our patients by providing clear, high-detailed breast images, which is the first step toward an accurate diagnosis and getting a patient on the proper treatment plan to good health,” said radiologist Steven Davis, M.D., medical director, Diagnostic Imaging Department.

The full-field digital mammography system provides comprehensive mammography patient care—from screening and diagnosis, to interventional procedures. Plus, the system has a patient-centric design and intuitive controls that allow the technologists who perform the examinations to focus on the patients, making the mammography examination an easier and more comfortable experience. For the physician, it provides greater flexibility in viewing the mammogram and performing biopsies.

Great River Medical Center’s digital mammography system is integrated with computer-aided detection (CAD) software, which acts as the radiologist’s “second pair of eyes” when reading a mammogram. Similar to a spell-checker system on a personal computer, this technology has the potential to detect findings that might otherwise be overlooked during the review process, thus improving the opportunity for cancer detection. CAD technology is especially effective in identifying microcalcifications in the breast, some of which can indicate a malignant process.

The digital system also is equipped with a workstation that allows physicians to simply, quickly and easily review patient images, including information from multimodality studies, at a single point of review. Physicians can pull up a patient’s previous mammogram for historical comparison or for comparison against other types of images, such as those acquired by ultrasound or MRI, resulting in a more comprehensive view of a specific patient’s medical history.