Digital Mammography: The Next Weapon In The Fight Against Breast Cancer

Mammograms are all about early cancer detection. The earlier you catch the cancer, the earlier the patient can be treated and the more likely there will be a successful outcome. Providing our patients with the latest technology is the best thing we can do for them. Over the last several years, the trend in radiology has been to move away from traditional films and towards digital, computerized films. The last modality to make the switch has been mammography. Until recently, traditional films were considered the best resolution for detecting cancer. Now the latest advances have given us digital mammography machines that are superior to anything available in the market before.

The Hologic System used at Toms River X-ray, CT, and MRI Center is less than one year old and is considered to be the very best on the market. It is probably one of the most state-of-the-art tools offered in women’s healthcare today. Here are a few commonly asked questions about digital mammography:

Q) What is the difference between analog and digital mammograms? What is the difference in image quality? 
A) Analog mammograms are the traditional study that takes an x-ray of the breasts on a film. Digital mammograms have the x-rays strike a computer censor instead of exposing a film. The computerized detector interprets the signal and creates a picture of the breast. The computer runs a series of highly technical postprocessing algorithms to further sharpen the image. This results in creating a picture with superior image quality. This is particularly true for young women and women with dense breasts.

Q) Is there a difference in radiation exposure? 
A) Generally, yes. The detector design captures the entire breast on one image, eliminating the need for multiple films. Due to the outstanding image quality, there is a reduced need for repeat films. These factors lead to an overall reduction in radiation exposure. 

Q) Is there a difference in comfort? 
A) Anecdotally, I have been told the digital mammogram unit is much more comfortable than the analog units. Digital imaging is faster with immediate imaging processing. This greatly reduces the overall examination time. Not having to leave the room to manually process films allows our technologists to spend more time with our patients to answer any questions. 

Our whole reason behind implementing digital mammography was to provide the technology that would encourage more women to get their annual mammograms. If we can improve compliance, this would be a positive benefit for patients as well as for us. Having digital mammography is definitely a benefit to our patients. By combining advanced technologies with qualified, experienced staff, a beautiful facility and an excellent group of radiologists, we’ve managed to offer women a better overall experience.