43,000 mammography exams in the U.S. just got more comfortable

Boca Raton Regional Hospital patients have reported a noticeable difference in comfort during the exam, as well as faster exams, with new imaging technology

Senographe Pristina Technician and Patient Image

Pictured: Amanda Demerac, a technologist at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, positions a patient for a scan on the Senographe Pristina.

Here are a few words that rarely go together: relaxed, comfortable and mammogram. After all, having one’s breasts compressed tightly between two firm surfaces while standing there awkwardly half clothed is certainly not the most pleasant of experiences.

“Senographe Pristina™ is different because in the past, the focus was primarily to improve image quality,” says Kathy Schilling, MD, Medical Director of the Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute. “But today we are seeing an additional focus on how can we make it better for our patients.”

The Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital started using Senographe Pristina in March 2017, the first U.S. installation of the system. With a staff of 18 mammography technologists and six breast sonographers, the hospital performs more than 43,000 mammograms annually across five sites.

With this new breast imaging technology, patients have reported a noticeable difference in comfort during the exam, as well as faster exams, fewer retakes and an easier overall experience. “It just felt better,” says one Boca Raton patient.

“As far as mammograms go, it was a good experience and it was a great new technology,” says another patient. “It’s a fantastic improvement.”

The gentle, rounded corners of the image receptor or “bucky”, where the woman places her breasts, changes the stance of the traditional mammogram. The bucky has gentle, rounded corners to help reduce discomfort and anxiety and is thinner so there’s less hard metal pushing into the patients’ ribs. Instead of requiring patients to grab conventional handgrips, which may cause tensing of pectoral muscles and therefore make it harder for the technologist to acquire clear images, patients at Boca can lean comfortably on armrests so they can relax their muscles to simplify positioning, compression and image acquisition.

Technologists at Boca Raton say this design has had a significant impact on patients’ comfort and image quality, as well as benefits for staff and patients.

Pictured: A clinical image of the breast taken with the Senographe Pristina.

Pictured: A clinical image of the breast taken with the Senographe Pristina.

“With Senographe Pristina, my patients seem way more relaxed. They’re not clenching and they’re more comfortable,” says Jennifer Susi, Technologist at Boca Raton.

By improving patient comfort, technologists can focus on precise positioning, potentially making the exam easier and faster. Poor positioning is a leading cause of retakes, and the lack of proper positioning may decrease mammography sensitivity[i].

“With Senographe Pristina, you’re able to get a lot better quality grade imaging for the patient and the doctor,” says Amanda Demerac, Technologist at Boca Raton. “This system definitely gives you greater confidence as a technologist.”

Maria Velasquez, MD, Radiologist at Boca Raton agrees that positioning can directly affect image quality.

“If the patient is relaxed, the studies can be good – they can be readable to me,” says Dr. Velasquez. “I think it’s crucial to have equipment like this in order to provide service to the patient and images to us so we can do a better reading.”

Overall, Boca Raton’s patients and staff are thrilled with the changes.

“Finally somebody listened to all the comments that we’ve been hearing and created a machine that is accommodating to our patients and the staff,” says Adela Parro, Lead Mammographer at Boca Raton.

A spa-like experience

This new mammogram technology is part of GE Healthcare’s commitment to the SensorySuite, which simultaneously stimulates three of a woman’s senses – scent, sight, and sound – to help reduce the perceived discomfort, pain and anxiety of a mammogram.

At Boca Raton, the mammography suites allow the patient to customize the environmental ambiance she prefers for her mammogram: Seaside, Garden, or Waterfall. In the spa-like exam suite, the air is infused with a light, calming fragrance, while flat-screen wall monitors display soothing videos and photos, and project relaxing sounds of the selected ambiance.

Senographe Pristina is the cornerstone of this new approach to breast health.

“I think it really has transformed breast imaging. It’s a whole different day,” says Dr. Schilling. “It’s not mammography anymore, this is a new age in breast imaging.”

Pictured: Dr. Maria Velasquez, MD, Radiologist, at Boca Raton Regional Hospital looks at clinical images taken with the Senographe Pristina.

Pictured: Dr. Maria Velasquez, MD, Radiologist, at Boca Raton Regional Hospital looks at clinical images taken with the Senographe Pristina.

Redesigning the mammography experience

Mammography has been the leading tool in the fight against breast cancer for decades, with continuous advancements in sensitivity and image quality that have helped save thousands of lives.

Yet despite these improvements, many women still avoid getting regular mammograms because they’re afraid of discomfort during the exam.

That’s why GE Healthcare developed the Senographe Pristina, a new system that changes the entire mammography experience by making the exam more comfortable.

Senographe Pristina now includes next-generation 3D digital mammography technology, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, which delivers superior diagnostic accuracy at the same low dose as a 2D mammography exam – and the lowest patient dose of all FDA-approved 3D mammography systems.[ii]

[i] Taplin SH, Rutter CM, Finder C, et al. Screening Mammography: Clinical Image Quality and the Risk of Interval Breast Cancer. AJR 2002; 178: 797-80

[ii], GE screening protocol consists of 3D CC/MLO + V-Preview CC/MLO, V-Preview is the 2D synthesized image generated by GE Seno Iris mammography software from GE DBT images. FDA PMA P130020/S001 http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfPMA/pma.cfm?id=P130020S001, Data on file. pp. 7893-7907.

 

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