A Better Mammogram- Digital Breast Tomosynthesis

Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) is an imaging technology which will change the way breast cancer is being detected.

Invented by Dr. Daniel Kopans at Harvard University, this type of imaging is a remarkable improvement over conventional 2D mammographic imaging.

With DBT we are now able to image the breast in slices and look at inner structures and detect cancers and calcifications much more readily than we previously did with conventional 2D mammographic imaging.

Some refer to this as 3D imaging which technically speaking it is not, but nonetheless it is a better way to look at breast abnormalities.

Digital breast tomography was approved by the FDA in February 2011. DBT enables radiologists to examine the breast layer by layer. Multiple low-dose images known as “slices” of the breast are acquired at different angles.

Depending on the machine multiple slices can be taken with DBT technology. The call back rate for additional views has been decreased by up to 40% and the cancer detection rate has been increased by up to 25%.

The DBT exam is a separate procedure that is performed at the same time as your regular mammogram. The exam will take about 4 seconds longer per view. Newer machines can reconstruct the images in to 2D mammograms thus reducing the amount of time required for the exam.

The total radiation dose depends on the breast size and varies from person to person. It is approximately the same dose as film/screen mammography. The amount of radiation is below government safety standards.

Ask your doctor about Digital Breast Tomosynthesis exam next time you are due for screening.

(1) AJR June 13, 204. (2) JAMA. 2014;311(24):2499-2507. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.6095.
Images from Hologic.com http://www.hologic.com/3d-mammography-clinical-images

By Dr. Barb.