The most advanced breast-screening technology is now available at UCLA Health’s medical campuses in Santa Monica and Westwood.
Both the Barbara Kort Women’s Imaging Center located near UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica and the Iris Cantor Center for Breast Imaging at UCLA’s Westwood campus are using tomosynthesis technology to produce three-dimensional mammograms.
The technology uses high-powered computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or “slices,” which become a 3-D mammogram.
While digital mammography is still one of the most advanced technologies available today, it only provides a two-dimensional picture of the breast.
Recently approved by the Federal Drug Administration, tomosynthesis has been shown in clinical studies to be superior to digital mammography as its three-dimensional view allows doctors to see subtle differences in breast tissue by examining one layer at a time.
This cutting-edge technology increases the number of cancers detected and lessens the need for women to be called back for additional testing after their initial screening exam.
A study published in the journal Radiology found that three-dimensional mammography combined with conventional breast imaging can increase breast cancer detection by 27 percent. The study also showed a 40-percent increase in invasive breast cancer detection when tomosynthesis was used in conjunction with traditional imaging, as well as a 15-percent decrease in false positives.
“We are excited to have tomosynthesis for our patients because this technology allows us to distinguish subtle changes in the breast, which, in turn, can lead to improved breast cancer detection,” said Dr. Anne Hoyt, director of the Barbara Kort Women’s Imaging Center and medical director of breast imaging for UCLA.
Tomosynthesis is the preferred imaging method for patients considered at high risk, due to a family history or other risk factors. The procedure is similar to a traditional mammogram, with the technologist compressing the breast to take images from two different angles. With the breast in position, the X-ray arm of the machine makes a quick arc over the breast, taking a series of very low-dose images at several angles.
The total amount of X-ray exposure from tomosynthesis is below guidelines set by the American College of Radiology.
“The entire procedure takes about the same amount of time as a traditional mammogram,” Dr. Hoyt said.
For more information about tomosynthesis, or to schedule an appointment at UCLA Health’s imaging centers, call 310.301.6800.