Breast Cancer – Diagnostics – Tomosynthesis
Newly developed tomosynthesis (tomo = “layer”) takes 3D images, while classic mammography is only able to deliver two-dimensional images of the breast. This method is similar to that of the computed tomography: The X-ray tube takes multiple pictures from different angles. The information is then calculated by a software program to produce clear three-dimensional images throughout the breast.
How is Tomosynthesis performed?
As with mammography, the breast is carefully compressed and X-rayed in this position. The difference: With mammography each breast is X-rayed at least twice – once from top to bottom and once diagonally from the outside in. With tomosynthesis, the X-ray tube rotates around the breast. Twenty-five exposures are taken, with up to two pictures per second. These are then displayed in the form of tomographic images. The advantage: Tumors that might have been missed during a traditional mammography screening can be displayed, even when covered by overlapping tissue.
3D images optimize results
The layered images avoid the problems caused by overlapping tissues – giving the radiologist a clearer image. This increases the chances of detecting lesions that may be cancerous. Tumors that have been already identified can be analyzed in terms of size and shape even earlier. This method will become more common in the future. In some cases, it is assumed that possible follow-up examinations, such as biopsies, might no longer be necessary.
Tomosynthesis is not a standard clinical procedure at the moment. However, together with classic mammography, it is already successfully being used in radiology departments around the world.