Wheeling Hospital Upgrades Mammography Imaging Capabilities

Photo by Linda Comins Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, radiologist Dr. Carl Seynnaeve explains the advanced accuracy and related benefits of 3-D mammography now used at Wheeling Hospital.

Wheeling Hospital and its St. Clairsville Health Care Center are offering 3-D mammography to produce clearer, more accurate images and provide earlier detection of breast cancer.

Radiologist Dr. Carl Seynnaeve said Wednesday that images taken with the new technology show more detail than conventional 2-D mammography. The clearer view is particularly important when patients with dense breast tissue are being examined, he said.

“With our new tools, we can detect breast cancer sooner,” said Dr. Jondavid Pollock, radiation oncologist at Wheeling Hospital’s Schiffler Cancer Center. “We can find breast cancer earlier and find it at more curable stages.

“It’s not enough to cure patients, but to cure them well,” he said.

When a doctor orders a breast exam, it will be standard protocol to perform a synthetic mammogram with a 2-D/3-D combination, Seynnaeve said. The ordering physician won’t have to specify that a 3-D view is requested.

“Eventually, in a few months, we will convert to 3-D mammograms (exclusively),” Seynnaeve said.

Jen Bond, hospital radiology director, said a conventional 2-D mammogram produces two images of each breast, but the new equipment takes 12 to 15 images, from multiple angles, in 3.7 seconds to produce a 3-D mammogram. She said the new system’s X-ray tube moves over the compression area in an arc.

For a patient, breast compression lasts a few seconds longer for 3-D imaging than the old method, Seynnaeve said.

Bond said a 3-D exam finds 20 to 65 percent more invasive breast cancers compared to 2-D alone, for an average increase of 41 percent.

Citing the technology’s effectiveness, Seynnaeve said a 2016 study of 85,000 patients indicated a 54 percent increase in cancer detection rates with 3-D mammography. The study showed that 5.4 cancers were detected for every 1,000 exams performed with 3-D mammography, compared to a rate of 3.5 cancers per 1,000 exams for 2-D mammography.

With the more accurate imaging, fewer callbacks for screening mammograms are needed. Bond said 3-D exams reduce the need for additional screening by up to 40 percent.

Any woman who is due to have a conventional mammogram can choose the 3-D exam, which is covered by Medicare and most private insurers. Dr. Mark Benson, medical director of the hospital’s radiology department, said he expects that 90 to 95 percent of insurance companies will pay for 3-D exams.

According to hospital officials, Wheeling Hospital and its health care centers are the only medical facilities in Ohio, Belmont, Marshall, Harrison, Wetzel and Tyler counties using 3-D mammography.

“Women don’t need to leave the community to get the same treatment as they would get in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Columbus,” Benson said.

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