LUMC starts research with alternative painless mammogram
14 October 2021
Leids Universitair Medisch Centrum (LUMC) is the first hospital in The Netherlands that will start exams with the Mamma CT which will replace the mammogram. The new Mamma CT is able to take medical images of breast tissue much more comfortably, for instance for screening breast cancer. According to radiologists, this is a solution for women that experience too much pain from mammography. On October 12, the device will be put to use.
Mammography makes x-rays of breast tissue. The breast is put between two supporting plates and subsequently compressed together to take the images. ‘’This can be very painful and that is why some women are put off by the exam’’, radiologist Nora Voormolen tells. In search of a better alternative, LUMC-radiologists found a new exam method, the Mamma CT. ‘’We had been following the developments of the method in Germany for some time and now we are the first in a Dutch hospital with this device’’, radiologist Martin Wasser says.
‘’The device looks like a big bed and contains an opening for the breast. The woman lies on her stomach and within 12 seconds, the medical images are taken without any compression of the breast. One can imagine that this is much more comfortable than mammography’’, Wasser says. But that is not the only advantage. ‘’For women with dense and plenty of breast tissue, some abnormalities are not visible on the 2D-mammography image. That’s why these women do an MRI-scan, but this is also not very comfortable and the exam is lengthy. Because Mamma CT can make detailed 3D-images, we can hopefully help these women avoid a time-consuming scan. Even so, a contrast agent must be given in some cases, as happens during MRI scans’’, Voormolen says.
Besides revealing tumours, the new method can also show preliminary stages of tumours, also called micro calcifications. It further provides a new outcome for women with prosthetic breast implants, which can be visualised well with this new method. ‘’Moreover, due to a new specially developed technique, the radiation dose is not higher than that of a mammogram,’’ Wasser adds. In short, the Mamma CT provides many possibilities and the images contain a lot of information.
Lots of information also means lots of input for research. ‘’We already have a lot of ideas on the table for different studies with the Mamma CT’’, Voormolen tells. Initially, the radiologists will research for which women and for which issues the Mamma CT is most suitable. The research method is only available for those groups of women for now.
Besides implementing Manna CT for a better patient care, Wasser and Voormolen also hope to improve the device itself. ‘’This device generates a plethora of data which means it can take 20 minutes for the reconstructions of the breast to be available for further analysis’’, Wasser says. Together with the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS), the radiologists will try to make the reconstructions faster and better. Furthermore, together with the Lab Klinische en Experimentele Beeldbewerking (LKEB) they want to research whether Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used for analysis of the images.
Because of the corona crisis, the radiologists had to wait long for the arrival of the device at the mamma division of the department Radiology, part of Leiden Oncology Centre. They cannot wait to put this device to practice. ‘’I look forward to working with the Mamma CT. But it is especially nice that we can offer women for whom the mammogram is not an option a good alternative’’, Voormolen says.
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Also published on Transport-online.nl