Mercy’s Tyanna O’Brien Center For Women’s Imaging Offers Patients State-of-the-Art 3D Screeening Mammography

October 16, 2014
Women's Imaging at Mercy

Cutting-edge breast cancer screening technology known as Digital Tomosynthesis or 3D Screening Mammography is available at Mercy Medical Center.

According to Dr. Jean Warner, Director of The Tyanna O'Brien Center for Women's Imaging at Mercy, it's technology that will save lives, providing improved breast cancer detection rates, “especially invasive cancers,” and a decrease in call backs, “up to 40 percent,” which may mean less anxiety for patients.

Digital tomosynthesis of the breast is different from a standard mammogram in the same way a CT scan of the chest is different from a chest X-ray. The difference is similar to a ball and a circle, a ball being 3-dimension, a circle, flat. Tomosynthesis takes multiple X-ray pictures of each breast from many angles. The breast is positioned the same way it is in a conventional mammogram, but only a little pressure is applied — just enough to keep the breast in a stable position during the procedure. The X-ray tube moves in an arc around the breast while multiple images are taken during a brief examination. Then the information is sent to a computer, where it is assembled to produce clear, highly focused 3-dimensional images throughout the breast.

"It increases the sensitivity of mammography so that we're able to detect more cancer in the population that otherwise we would miss with 2D mammography. It's a significant increase, in the range of 25-30 percent more cancers being detected," Dr. Warner said.

By way of example, Dr. Warner circled an area indicating a three-millimeter invasive tumor that was very clear on the 3D mammography. It couldn't be seen with the 2D mammography.

"Instead of seeing just one single image of the breast, we're seeing 85 images of that breast. Each image is a millimeter image through the breast, so we're able to discern different levels of the breast tissue," Dr. Warner said. "When we have a two-dimensional X-ray, it's like having a book and you just see the cover. You can't really see what's inside that book until you flip through each page of the book, and these one-millimeter slices of the breast give us a page-by-page image," she added.

Technologists noted that the patients' experience will be about the same.

"They wouldn't really notice a difference other than the machine moves a little differently, and some breathing instructions the technologist will be giving them are different," Mercy mammography technologist Dara Szekalski said.

Mercy was able to acquire tomosynthesis thanks to a $1.25 million donation from a Maryland residents Shelley and Allan Holt.

View Dr. Jean Warner’s interview with WBAL-TV11 on 3D mammograms.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit, MDMercyMedia on FacebookTwitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.

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