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ECH Mammography goes digital

ELIZABETHTOWN Local patients in need of a mammogram can now benefit from some updated technology. New equipment for digital mammography is now in place at Elizabethtown Community Hospital, making mammograms easier for patients to undergo and for doctors to read. Since the a digital mammogram allows for a larger dynamic range than film screen, it produces a higher quality image, especially when screening pre- and peri-menopausal women who often have denser breasts. This is one of the most important benefits of digital mammography, said radiologist Molly Thompson, We are able to see through the dense breast tissue and still see the skin line. With film screen on patients who have very dense breasts you may need to obtain two images to see both areas. This exposure latitude also means less repeat exposures to patients due to technique. This is a benefit to patients for comfort as well as reduction in radiation exposure. In addition to better images, going digital means that radiologists can process the images digitally in the exam room as opposed to waiting for film to develop, and easily store the images on a computer. The images can be manipulated to allow the radiologist to enlarge areas for better visualization of densities, Thompson said. The radiologists will have the ability to lighten or darken an image, as well. With screen film images the patient would have to return in order to obtain special views of these areas. According to Thompson, the hospital performs roughly 60 mammograms per month. Some patients are happy because they know theyre getting the highest quality with digital mammography, and the radiologists are happy because theyre able to see all the areas in the breast tissue, she said. The equipment, has been in place since May on a trial basis, gave digital capability to the previous imaging system. Assistance from a state grant will help to offset the $200,000 cost.

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