Hospital welcomes 3D mammogram machine

Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital welcomed the arrival of a state-of-the-art 3D mammogram machine this year. 

In September this year, the Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital celebrated the official opening of its “pain-free” 3D mammography centre. 

Patients who undergo routine mammograms at the hospital and at Cayman Islands Imaging Centre now now avail of the latest diagnostic technology, digital breast tomosynthesis, to perform three-dimensional mammography.  

The hospital is the first healthcare provider in the Caribbean region to feature the state-of-the-art system, Selenia Dimensions from Hologic.  

“CTMH is very excited to be able to offer the newest technology for breast cancer detection,” said chief radiologist Dr. Yaron Rado at the ribbon cutting ceremony. “Breast tomosynthesis and three-dimensional mammography is different from conventional mammography in how the image of the breast is acquired and, more importantly, viewed.”
Among the advantages of digital breast tomosynthesis for radiologists at the hospital and at Cayman Islands Imaging is that it offers images with a clarity and degree of detail substantial enough to reduce some of the false-positives and false-negatives associated with 2D mammographic imaging.  

Researchers have reported reducing the false-positive callback rate by as much as 30 to 40 per cent.  

Dr. Rado also explained that the new technology has been recently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. 

Breast tomosynthesis allows doctors to examine breast tissue one layer at a time. It is a new technology in the fight against breast cancer and can be used in conjunction with traditional digital mammography as part of an annual screening mammogram to capture more breast images.  

Very low X-ray energy is used during the screening examination so radiation exposure is safely below the American College of Radiology guidelines.  

Using breast tomosynthesis and digital mammography together for screening has been proven to reduce “call-backs”. Breast tomosynthesis can also be used for a diagnostic mammogram if a patient is called back for this type of exam. 

Breast tomosynthesis uses high-powered computing to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thin layers or “slices”, building what is essentially a “3-dimensional mammogram”. 

During the tomosynthesis part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple breast images in just seconds. 

A computer then produces a 3D image of the breast tissue in one millimetre layers. 

Now the radiologist can see breast tissue detail in a way never before possible. Instead of viewing all the complexities of the breast tissue in a flat image, the doctor can examine the tissue a millimetre at a time. 

This mean that fine details are more clearly visible, no longer hidden by the tissue above and below. 

The new mammogram service is considered to be less painful than traditional mammogram examinations, where the compression of the breast can be uncomfortable. 

For some women, the traditional mammogram check is so painful, they are deterred from getting the test as often as they should, despite the fact that early detection is key to survival of breast cancer. 

Tomosynthesis produces a 3-dimensional image of the breast by using several low-dose x-rays obtained at different angles. For tomosynthesis, the breast is positioned in the same way as for a mammogram but the x-ray tube moves in a circular arc around the breast.  

In the traditional machine, the compression can cause overlapping of the breast tissue, which can hide a breast cancer. The 3D images discern different overlapping tissue.  

The traditional mammogram takes only one picture, across the entire breast, in two directions: top to bottom and side to side. Modern studies show that tomosynthesis outperforms traditional mammograph and the benefits were seen for both masses and microcalcification and the recall rates showed a reduction of about 40 per cent. 



Preparing for a 3D mammogram is similar to getting ready for the 2D version. 

Wear two-piece clothing (top and pants/skirt) to simplify undressing for the exam; do not apply talc, deodorant, oils or creams on the upper body the day of the exam; if a woman experiences breast tenderness with the menstrual cycle, try to schedule the exam one to two weeks after the menstrual period when breasts tend to be less tender; in some women, caffeine-containing products (cola, coffee, chocolate) could make breasts more tender, so women who are sensitive should limit caffeine intake for two weeks prior to exam; if a woman has had prior mammograms performed at other imaging facilities, she should notify her doctor so that the previous study may be requested for comparison; the patient should tell the technologist if she has breast implants.  

Women should inform their doctor if they are or may be pregnant or nursing prior to any radiological imaging. The doctor may recommend another type of test to reduce the possible risk of exposing the baby to radiation. 

Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital will not be increasing the fees associated with mammograms. Fees for procedures on the new equipment will be the same as those of the past. 

Getting mammograms regularly are vital for early detection of breast cancer. The earlier breast cancer is detected, the more likely it is to be treated and cured. 

The evening featured remarks from the Minister of Health Mark Scotland. 

The hospital and the imaging centre donated 25 3D mammogram vouchers each to the Cancer Society, the Breast Cancer Foundation and the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens.  

On the evening of the opening ceremony, Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital was named a “Pink Ribbon Facility”. Pink Ribbon Facilities are digital imaging centres recognised as providing excellence in breast health paired with their exceptional commitment and support to the women of their community. 


To make a mammogram appointment, call 949-6066, ext. 500.