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Digital Mammography Gives Clearer Image

By Staff | Sep 9, 2009

Vicki Ensinger, (ASRT), (RM) of the radiology department at Wetzel County Hospital shows the digital enhancement of reading mammograms.

Wetzel County Hospital’s Radiology Department is now on the cutting edge of technology thanks to their new Selania digital mammography equipment that was recently installed at the hospital.

Women no longer have to drive a distance to get their digital mammograms done and read quickly thanks to this upgrade.

Digital mammography is the technology that provides incredibly sharp breast images. And the images appear on the technologist’s monitor in a matter of seconds. There is no waiting for the film to be developed like in the past when a mammogram was done.

Larry Couch, chief executive officer of Wetzel County Hospital, and Pam Deel, director of radiology, recently presented the new equipment and the advancement of readings mammograms at the radiology department. This will help WCH detect breast cancer much sooner. Even a new separate dressing room was installed beside the mammogram room for the patient’s convenience.

Also at the radiology department for the presentation was Steve Fox, Wetzel County Board of Trustees member, who commented, “We are doing it all right here,” noting and how women no longer have to make a long drive out of this area for this procedure.

Wetzel County Hospital Radiology Technicians Michelle Pleskonka, Vicki Ensinger, and Teria Smoot show off the new digital mammogram machine at WCH.

“We are using the same radiologists that Wheeling Hospital are using,” said Deel, noting it is the Radiologist Associates of Wheeling. These same radiologists will be reading these mammograms at WCH. “The results are so much quicker now and the radiologist can call the physician right away if something is detected,” stated Deel. She explained that the waiting period for women to hear back on their results is shorter now, thanks to to this new technology.

This advancement in mammography can mean earlier detection which allows for more options and treatments. Deel explained that before digital mammography, women sometimes did not find out they had cancer until it was in later stages. “Stage one breast cancer is now being detected much sooner and this type of cancer has a survival rate that is much higher now,” said Deel. She continued that even calcifications in the breast tissue show up much better with digital mammography, plus they are able to keep track of these calcifications.

Being shown first hand the difference in a regular mammogram and the digital mammogram in the radiologist’s office at the hospital, one can truly see how advanced the picture quality is. The details are clearly shown, making it easier for a radiologist to notice any abnormalities.

Teria Moot, R.N.T (R) (M), assisting in training the radiology department on this new technology, showed that even tiny calcifications in breast tissue can clearly identified now. She noted how the radiologist reading results can bring up any past digital mammograms right on the computer screen to do a comparison of the results, putting the old and new mammograms side by side.

Moot mentioned on how in the past, radiologists where literally using magnifying glasses to look more closely at mammogram x-rays to see the details needed.

With this new technology they can literally, on the computer screen, magnify the results in one spot many times if so desired. They can lighten and darken the picture, moved to different location on the scan, and then magnify it again to look in even more detail.

Deel and Moot explained this is a big plus when women need a biopsy. The image from this procedure is right there in the room with the surgeon, so he can pinpoint the correct location. This is a plus for women having the biopsy done, because the digital mammogram makes the procedure go more quickly than before thanks to the enhanced images.

Digital images are easily stored, transferred, and copied electronically. This stops the dependency on the big original films that had to be stored in the medical records department.

As for the question that many women ask, yes you still have to have the compression part done with the digital mammography, but the time is shorter once the procedure is started, since the technician has the digital picture to view right away to confirm a good image.

Breast cancer will affect an average of one in eight women sometime in their life. It is the second most common cause of cancer related death in women. Numerous studies have shown that early detection is vital in the treatment of breast cancer.

Wetzel County is a certified Pink Ribbon facility, a distinction awarded only to an elite group of healthcare facilities. For any questions about scheduling a digital mammogram or if you have questions about breast health, call the radiology department at (304) 455-8090.