CHARLOTTE, N.C., July 30, 2013 – Charlotte Radiology, the area’s largest mammography provider, is the first breast center in Charlotte to offer digital breast tomosynthesis (also known as 3D mammography). The procedure will be offered at Charlotte Radiology’s Pineville Breast Center (10650 Park Rd. Suite 280) starting the week of August 19th, providing convenient, local access to this advanced technology.
Tomosynthesis creates multiple images or “slices” that step through the breast tissue. This allows the radiologist to see greater detail and helps reduce the impact of overlapping breast tissue. The process is performed at the same time as a traditional 2D mammogram, on the same scanner with no noticeable difference in the experience or time expended for the patient.
“Tomosynthesis gives us the ability to see masses, particularly in dense breast tissue, that we might have difficulty detecting with traditional mammography. Because it reduces the overlap of tissue, most investigators have found that it leads to fewer callbacks and therefore less anxiety for women," explains Dr. Matthew Gromet, Chief of Mammography at Charlotte Radiology.
The procedure was approved by the FDA in February 2011 and is a modification of the current 2D (digital) mammography. The exam is performed on state-of-the-art digital equipment, which is able to obtain multiple low-dose images of a compressed breast from different angles. These images are then viewed individually and dynamically. Radiologists are able to view breast tissue layer by layer, one millimeter at a time, similar to a CT scan.
Dr. Terry Wallace a specialist in breast imaging for Charlotte Radiology noted, “Tomosynthesis is an exciting revolutionary technology that gives us the ability to scroll through each layer or slice of tissue to see what it really looks like. It reveals greater detail, which may help us detect cancer sooner.”
Tomosynthesis is an optional service for the patient, which supplements the traditional mammographic images. While 2D digital mammography remains the gold standard for early detection, 3D images can offer better visualization for radiologists who are helping certain groups of patients – particularly those with dense breasts. A woman’s breast tissue density is determined by a prior mammogram.
“All women may benefit from tomosynthesis; however, there is increased benefit to women with dense breast tissue because dense breast tissue may look similar to cancer tissue. 2D mammography can’t always differentiate between cancer and dense breast tissue” says Dr. Deborah Agisim, a specialist in breast imaging for Charlotte Radiology. “For example, if a 2D mammogram detects an area of concern, the radiologists may want to further investigate with a diagnostic mammogram, ultrasound or biopsy. Looking at the same breast tissue in 3D, the radiologist may now see that the tissue is in fact normal breast tissue. In this scenario, the patient likely avoided a callback for an additional mammogram.”
The radiation dose is approximately the same for tomosynthesis as it is for traditional 2D mammography. So the radiation is roughly doubled when doing a 2D mammogram along with tomosynthesis. Even this combined dose is still below the FDA-regulated limit for 2D mammography and has been found by the FDA to be safe and effective for patient use.
Insurance does not yet cover the tomosynthesis portion of the mammogram. However, the 2D portion of the exam is covered 100 percent by most plans. Patients will be required to pay an out-of-pocket fee of $50 at the time of service if they opt to supplement their mammogram with tomosynthesis.
To learn more about 3D Mammography, and find photos, videos and fast facts, please visit www.charlotteradiology.com/tomo