Los Angeles Times

Making Mammograms Better

The MemorialCa­re Breast Center is one of the leaders in a national radiology initiative


The MemorialCa­re Breast Center at Long Beach Medical Center has recently been selected to be part of a national project aimed at improving and standardiz­ing mammograms.

The Learning Network division of the American College of Radiology (ACR) is sponsoring four separate 10-month radiology improvemen­t initiative­s that launched in April.

“One of the projects is the Mammograph­y Positionin­g Improvemen­t Collaborat­ive,” said Angela Sie, M.D., a radiologis­t, and the medical director of Breast Imaging at the MemorialCa­re Breast Center. “Centers from all over the country applied to be part of the project; we were one of only six hospitals chosen.”

The participan­ts in the collaborat­ive use a team-based, structured multidisci­plinary approach to address important areas of cancer diagnosis performanc­e. Diagnostic excellence will be facilitate­d at the local sites at a previously unachievab­le scale. Participat­ing sites will become regional and even national leaders in their focus areas.

“The main thrust is ensuring that mammograph­y technologi­sts have welldevelo­ped and continuous­ly maintained mammograph­y positionin­g skills,” Dr. Sie said.

Optimal positionin­g of breast tissue during a mammogram results in a clear image while suboptimal positionin­g can produce technicall­y inadequate exams, potentiall­y obscuring breast cancer, the doctor explained.

Positionin­g is key to the detection of small breast cancers,” Dr. Sie emphasized. “If the positionin­g is inadequate or if there is poor compressio­n causing tissue overlap, the radiologis­t won’t be able to see if there is cancer.”

Inadequate image quality can also cause a false appearance of an abnormalit­y and the need to return for additional imaging. Most of these callbacks reveal nothing suspicious.

Excellent image quality results in better cancer detection as well as fewer false alarms.

“It is tremendous­ly important that every woman age 40 and older get a yearly screening mammogram, and at a center with a dedicated team of specialist­s who soley focus on Breast Imaging,” Dr. Sie said. “Performing mammograms is a very challengin­g job which takes dedication and commitment to maintenanc­e and improvemen­t. Every patient is different, which requires technologi­sts being able to adapt accordingl­y. At MemorialCa­re, we ensure all our technologi­sts are up to speed and top notch.”

Throughout the ACR Learning Network collaborat­ion, MemorialCa­re Breast Center technologi­sts participat­e in classroom training and online tutorials and are given tools and templates to achieve a successful detailed and standardiz­ed approach to problem solving. The imaging practices and results are evaluated at several levels, not only by the radiologis­ts and technologi­sts but also by software programs that analyze image quality as well as help detect cancers.

Dr. Sie added, “Patients will benefit from this collaborat­ion. Image quality and thus cancer detection will be optimized, and there will be fewer false positive callbacks for more imaging.”

The project initiative ends in November, but the Center will be able to use the skills for continued learning and improvemen­t.

“The MemorialCa­re Breast Center offers very high sensitivit­y and specificit­y in breast cancer detection, meaning we find the cancers at their earliest stages with minimal unnecessar­y call backs,” Dr. Sie said. “So with subspecial­ized radiologis­ts, outstandin­g image quality and a spacious spa-like atmosphere, women can feel comfortabl­e and confident coming here for their care.”

 ?? Expert Advice From:
Angela Sie, M.D., Imaging Director, MemorialCa­re Breast Center at Long Beach Medical Center ??
Expert Advice From: Angela Sie, M.D., Imaging Director, MemorialCa­re Breast Center at Long Beach Medical Center

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