Dig­i­tal mam­mog­ra­phy tak­ing off

New unit reap­ing many ben­e­fits

Kapi-Mana News - - REGION - By SIMON ED­WARDS

The re­cent launch of the re­fur­bished mo­bile screen­ing unit puts the re­gion’s new dig­i­talised mam­mog­ra­phy ser­vice on the road.

Hutt Val­ley District Health Board de­liv­ers breast screen­ing ser­vices to nearly 25,000 women a year around the re­gion.

In a project usu­ally done in stages over years, lo­cal ser­vices have been switched from ana­logue (X-ray film) to dig­i­tal in eight months.

A third and fi­nal dig­i­tal mam- mog­ra­phy ma­chine is be­ing in­stalled at the Hutt Hos­pi­tal­based head­quar­ters of Breast­Screen Cen­tral.

A dig­i­tal unit is work­ing at Kenepuru Hospi­tal in Porirua, where a sec­ond change room has also been built, which will dou­ble that ser­vice’s ca­pac­ity.

Breast­Screen Cen­tral also sub­con­tracts Pa­cific Ra­di­ol­ogy to run a dig­i­talised mam­mog­ra­phy ser­vice for Welling­ton women at Wake­field Hospi­tal.

Ser­vice man­ager Donna Brown said the mo­bile unit – a huge ar­tic­u­lated trailer unit – is kept busy in Kapiti, Welling­ton South and par­tic­u­larly in the Wairarapa, where it is the sole mam­mog­ra­phy ser­vice.

The unit, which has an on­board gen­er­a­tor, re­cep­tion and change room, has been in use since 1999.

It has been to­tally over­hauled in­side and out, with the dig­i­tal gear in­stalled bring­ing the cost to $500,000.

Welling­ton’s screen­ing ser­vice is the sixth of eight around the coun­try to switch from film to com­put­erised imag­ing. The to­tal cost is ex­pected to be just over $4 mil­lion.

Breast care con­sul­tant Dr Madeleine Wall said the new dig­i­tal screen­ing machines are sta­teof-the-art. While the im­ages they pro­duce take longer to ex­am­ine, they’re bet­ter than X-ray film for de­tec­tion of ab­nor­mal­i­ties in younger [aged 45 to 50] women and those with dense breast tis­sue.

A big ad­van­tage is that im­ages can be called up in­stan­ta­neously on a com­puter screen any­where, in­clud­ing when women shift to other re­gions.

‘‘In the fu­ture, I’ll be able to call up past im­ages im­me­di­ately on screen rather than wait­ing a week or so for film to be found and sent.’’

Ms Brown said while clients won’t no­tice much change – ‘‘they’ll still have to have their breast squeezed by a ma­chine’’ – the dig­i­tal equip­ment is more er­gonomic and eas­ier for staff.

Pro­cess­ing is stream­lined.

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