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Taipei City Hospital

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Advanced 3D Mammography Reduces Pain and Improves Quality of Breast Cancer Screenings

       Traditional breast x-ray radiographs have difficulty in determining tumor images, as the denseness of mammary tissue and image overlapping (especially apparent in Asian women) makes it difficult to identify lesions; about 20~30% of breast cancer patients were not screened properly.

       In 2018, the Renai Branch of the Taipei City Hospital has introduced the Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT), the latest form of digital 3-D mammography instrument; there are only about 20 such advanced diagnosis instruments that exist in Taiwan as of yet. The machine takes x-ray images at multiple angles and combines them through computer software to form 40-50 images at a thickness of 1mm, allowing the exposure of lesions hidden within the breast.

       Dr. Yun Zheng Chen, Attending Physician at the Renai Branch’s Division of Medical Imaging, stated that cameras used for DBT have high sensitivity in order to eliminate confusions in image interpretation due to overlapping images, reduce false positive rates, and lower the need for unnecessary biopsies. The system requires less radiation to reduce soft tissue overlapping and image noise, and is equipped with a 3D computed-tomography biopsy system. Traditional fine-needle breast biopsy creates wounds that measure about 3-5 cm and take about 7 to 10 days to heal; the latest CT-guided biopsy only results in wounds of about 0.5 cm, and with the use of a vacuum aspiration system, wound healing can be shortened to about 2 to 3 days, allowing patients to complete biopsies in the shortest and most minimally invasive way they can.

       During traditional breast x-ray imaging, the breasts are pressed to about 4 cm thickness in order to clearly show the lesions. This causes great discomfort to the subjects and further reduces their willingness to participate in future screenings. The advanced DBT reduces the pound pressure from 32 to 22-23 pounds, which greatly reduces pain in the screening process and provides better imaging quality and service at the same time.