With the new Mamma CT, images of breast tissue can be taken in a much more comfortable way, for example for breast cancer screening. ‘According to radiologists, this is a solution for women for whom mammography is too painful. The device was put into use on Tuesday 12 October’, according to the LUMC.
Breast Compressed on Mammography
In mammography, X-rays are taken of the breast tissue. The breast is placed between two support plates and then compressed for the photo. ‘This can be very painful and that is also the reason why some women opt out of the examination’, says radiologist Nora Voormolen. In the search for a better alternative, LUMC radiologists came across a new research method, Mamma CT. ‘We have been following the developments of this method in Germany for some time and are now the first Dutch hospital with this device’, says radiologist Martin Wasser.
Dense breast tissue
‘The device looks like a large bed and contains an opening for the chest. The woman can therefore simply lie on her stomach and the images are made within 12 seconds, without compression of the breast. You can imagine that this is much more comfortable than mammography’, says Wasser.
But that is by no means the only advantage. ‘In women with a lot of dense breast tissue, some abnormalities on the 2D mammogram image are not clearly visible. They therefore receive an MRI scan, but this is also not very comfortable and the examination takes a long time. Because Mamma CT can create detailed 3D images, we can hopefully save these women a time-consuming scan. However, as with MRI, contrast medium must sometimes be administered before the CT’, says Voormolen.
Precancerous tumors can also be seen
In addition to tumors, the new method can also detect pre-stages of tumors, the so-called microcalcifications. It also offers a solution for women with breast prostheses, because these can be properly imaged thanks to the new method. ‘In addition, thanks to a new specially developed technique, the radiation exposure is no higher than that of the mammogram,’ adds Wasser. In short, the Mamma CT offers many possibilities and the images contain a lot of information.
And a lot of information also means a lot of input for research. ‘We already have many ideas on the shelf for various studies with the Mamma CT’, says Voormolen. Initially, the radiologists will investigate for which women and for which questions Mamma CT is most suitable. For now, the research method is only available for these groups of women.
Now just need 20 minutes for images
In addition to using Mamma CT for better patient care, Wasser and Voormolen also hope to improve the device itself. ‘This device generates an enormous amount of data, so it takes about 20 minutes before the breast reconstructions are available for assessment,’ says Wasser. Together with the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), the radiologists will try to make the reconstructions faster and better. They also want to investigate, together with the Lab Clinical and Experimental Image Processing (LKEB), whether artificial intelligence (AI) can be used in the assessment of images.
Due to the corona crisis, the radiologists had to wait a long time for the device to arrive in the breast section of the Radiology department, part of the Leiden Oncology Center. They can’t wait to start using the device. “I’m really looking forward to working with the Mamma CT. But it is especially great that we can now offer something to women for whom the mammogram is not an option,’ says Voormolen.
LUMC is investigating Mamma CT as a less painful alternative to mammogram
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