It’s true, mammograms are still the best tool to detect breast cancer. US breast cancer statistics report that in 2018, 1 in 8 women will develop an invasive form of breast cancer. Which all boils down to one scary fact: approximately 40,920 women in the US are “expected” to die from breast cancer in 2018 alone. Mammograms are the first step to taking preventative measures, but it doesn’t stop there. What about how these images are viewed by a radiologist? Not all PACS are created equal. In fact, do you know if you are even viewing high quality breast images on an approved DICOM viewer?
Traditionally, mammography imaging studies are stored on a local onsite picture archiving and communications system (PACS). There are two reasons for this. First, mammography studies are difficult and slow to transmit electronically due to their size. Second, traditionally specialized software and reading stations located near modalities have been required to read mammography images.
In recent years, many cutting-edge radiology facilities that perform breast imaging have begun offering a new imaging technology called digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) in addition to or in place of standard mammography exams.
Compared to most medical imaging studies, mammograms are subject to a higher level of scrutiny. In addition to needing FDA approval, those working with mammograms must be in compliance with the Mammography Quality and Safety Act (MQSA), which defines how long studies must be saved and what kind of equipment studies can be read on.
Photo Credit ACRIN/Hologic
Currently, there are disagreements about the appropriate starting age and frequency of mammographic breast scans. However, due to recent governmental recommendations and reduced insurance reimbursement, the frequency of these radiologic visits will likely be delayed to once every two years. Concurrent with these new recommendations, advances in technology have emerged to supplement mammography to enhance the detection of breast tissue tumors without increasing the incidence of false positives. Both new technology and the likely increase in the span between imaging examinations pose challenges to your PACS.
Is your facility prepared to handle these coming changes in breast imaging? This post will help you navigate these issues and outline PACS requirements for Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT), 3D Mammography, MRI, and Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) that you should consider.