By: 1 December 2008

Tomosynthesis: A Next Generation Breast Imaging Technique

Mammography currently has a great success rate at detecting breast cancer as part of the national screening programme and all units will be upgraded to digital over the coming years to further improve its effectiveness. However, standard digital mammography has its limitations and may not be as useful for patients on HRT who often have denser breast tissue.

Tomosynthesis is a new technique that takes CT-like slice images of the breast from different angles to create a 3D image. This gives greater detail even for those with dense tissue. Clinical trials by Dr. I. Andersson at the University Hospital of Malmö in Sweden used a Siemens digital mammography system and Tomosynthesis module to focus on a group of 36 patients with 40 breast cancers which were difficult to interpret on 2D digital mammography. From the breast cancer sample, 22 out of the 40 lesions were better visualised via the 3D tomosynthesis information than 1-view 2D digital mammography. Compared with 2-view digital mammography, 11 cases were still better visualised on Tomosynthesis.

Siemens Healthcare is the only digital mammography provider in the marketplace to offer its MAMMOMAT Inspiration as a tomosynthesis ready system. It only requires a simple upgrade when the department looks to expand to tomosynthesis methods.