digital mammography

Radiology technicians Julie Ault (left) and Timmerle Jennings assist women with Shelby Memorial Hospital� new digital mammography system. An open house is being planned to introduce the equipment to the public.

For many women, the earlier a problem is detected, the better the chance of treating it successfully.

Shelby Memorial Hospital has a new machine in the battle against breast cancer - one of the leading cancers for women.

“For some patients, it was better for them to go to another facility to get a digital mammogram. Now they can have it done here,” said Amy Waddington, Shelby Memorial Hospital Radiology Department manager.

A Selenia Digital Mammography System by Hologic replaced the older film-based mammography system in June.

“The main machine works the same - it’s still a mammogram,” said technologist Timmerle Jennings. “But the image quality is the difference.”

The image is transferred to a high-resolution monitor rather than to film, and the image itself is clearer to reveal the suspicious areas.

The radiologist can manipulate the images, adjusting the contrast, brightness and zoom, to be able to fully read special areas of interest through a Computer-Aided Diagnosis system coupled into the system.

The images are electronic and can be stored or transmitted to other doctors and specialists in a more streamlined manner.

“Kudos to the hospital administration and board to see fit to get that (system) for us,” said Radiologist Craig Chaney, MD. “I can visualize abnormalities better, especially in women with dense breast tissue. I can also see the skin surface better.”

“The hospital also had to buy two 5-megapixel monitors, which is a significant cost outlay,” Chaney said. “They made a wise investment. It’s a state-of-the-art full-field digital unit.”

Chaney noted that the radiation dose is slightly lower and the process is quicker for both the patient and the technologist.

“The patient also spends less time getting the mammogram because she doesn’t have to wait on the film to be developed and perhaps having to do a retake,” Jennings said.

The hospital received the machine after two years of raising funds. The technicians have also undergone training in the operation of the machine. The radiologist has also been undergone training to be able to read the digital image more accurately.

“I’m thrilled to death to have this equipment,” said Shelby Memorial Hospital administrator John Bennett. “They (technicians) showed me the film image from the old machine and a digital image. The clarity of the digital image is just amazing. It is wonderful equipment.”

An open house featuring the digital mammography equipment is planned for the near future.

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