Advances in radiologic technology play an important role in diagnosing medical conditions and diseases. Since Wilhelm Roentgen discovered X-rays in 1895, transformations in radiology have been improving the level of healthcare in our community.
State-of-the-Art 3D Mammography
3D mammography – digital breast tomosynthesis – is a revolutionary diagnostic breast imaging tool that improves the detection of early-stage breast cancer, when it is easier to treat.
In the US, 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. “Studies show a 10% to 30% increase in overall breast cancer detection using 3D mammography, compared to using 2D imaging alone,” says Robert E. Wold, MD, a board-certified radiologist.
3D mammography also helps to reduce the stress of mammography, especially for the one in four women who are “called back” for additional screenings and possibly invasive diagnostic biopsies.
“3D technology divides the breast into multiple very small slices, thereby removing overlapping tissue,” says Dr. Wold. “Together the images create a crystal-clear 3D reconstruction of the breast.”
Skilled radiologists review a reconstruction of the breast, one slide at a time, almost like turning pages in a book. These comprehensive visual aids radiologists who are experienced with digital breast tomosynthesis to recognize areas of concern. 3D tomosynthesis is especially advantageous in young women and women with dense breasts.
“The American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society of Breast Disease recommend a screening mammogram every year for women beginning at age 40,” advises Dr. Wold. Like a conventional mammography, breast tomosynthesis radiation levels are well below the limits defined by the FDA.
“Women who have a strong family history of breast cancer and those who are at increased risk due to a genetic history of breast cancer should begin screening earlier,” concludes Dr. Wold. “Women should know how their breasts normally look and feel, and should report any change immediately to their doctor.”
Prostate MRI Fusion
Prostate cancer rates in men are similar to breast cancer rates in women in the US. The prostate gland, a soft tissue structure about the size of a walnut, lies deep within a man’s pelvis between the bladder and penis, in front of the rectum.
Recent advances in MRI – magnetic resonance imaging – have allowed doctors to evaluate the prostate gland in ways that were previously impossible. Today’s technology improves prostate cancer detection, staging of patients with known prostate cancer and evaluation of recurrent disease in men whose prostate gland has been removed.
“When we started our prostate MRI program in 2012 we were performing one prostate MRI per month. As urologists learned of the power of this test our practice has grown; currently we average more than 90 patients per month,” says board certified diagnostic radiologist Stephen McManus, MD, confirming the growing use of MRI for prostate cancer diagnosis.
MRI uses electromagnetic properties to collect information about organs and other tissues. Cancerous tissue has a different set of magnetic properties than surrounding normal tissue. MRI is able to capture these differences in amazingly clear images.
“To ensure accuracy every prostate MRI is double read by two radiologists, each experienced in this area,” says Dr. McManus. “Additionally, we use 15 data points to illustrate the exact position of any findings.”
Finally, many urologists who perform these biopsies will use state-of-the-art technology called MR-ultrasound fusion biopsy. The MR images are superimposed on the prostate gland at the time of biopsy, which improves accuracy.
“These three critical steps assist the patient’s urologist in identifying targets during the biopsy procedure, increasing the chances that the cancer is sampled,” says Dr. McManus.
“Prostate MRI along with MRI ultrasound fusion biopsy is at the leading edge of prostate cancer care,” says Dr. McManus. “Residents in the greater Monmouth County area are fortunate to have this university hospital-grade technology available close to home.”
CT – Virtual Colonoscopy & Lung Scans
A CT scan – computerized tomography – can help detect lung cancer and colon cancer by providing unobstructed 3D views, enabling early diagnosis, when treatment options have the best chance for success.
“Low Dose CT Scans for lung cancer screening have been shown to decrease deaths from lung cancer by 20%. If you are a current heavy smoker or have quit within the last 15 years, you should talk to your primary care physician or pulmonologist to see if this test is right for you,” says Janet Spector, MD.
“When caught early enough, the survival rate for lung cancer is very high,” explains Dr. Spector. “By the time a lung tumor shows up on a chest x-ray, the cancer will be at a much later stage, much larger, and with an outcome that may be much less optimistic.”
Lung cancer remains the second most common cause of cancer death in the US for both men and women after skin cancer. More men and women die from lung cancer than from colon, breast and prostate cancers combined.
People age 50 and older should get screened for colorectal cancer every five years and, thanks to today’s medical imaging technology, there’s more than one type of colonoscopy.
“Colonoscopy remains the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening and prevention,” says Dr. Spector, “but a less invasive procedure – virtual colonoscopy – has benefits for some patients.”
Patients who should consider virtual colonoscopy include those for whom anesthesia is too risky, or who are simply too fearful of a conventional colonoscopy.
“The best test is a test a patient is willing to have,” affirms Dr. Spector.
There are no dyes, no sedatives, no IV and a lower risk of complications with virtual colonoscopy. Instead of a long tube topped by a camera inserted through the rectum, with virtual colonoscopy only a small disposable tube is used to inflate the colon with carbon dioxide.
A reduced radiation CT scan is taken outside of the body, with the patient lying first on their back and then on their stomach. The CT images clearly show even small polyps and other abnormalities inside the rectum, colon and pelvic area.
Both tests still require a clean colon, so a clear liquid diet and a laxative prep are necessary. If a polyp is found, a conventional colonoscopy is needed to remove the polyp or get a biopsy.
“Colorectal screening is important because it saves lives,” says Dr. Spector. “The most common symptom of colon cancer is no symptom at all. Only a colonoscopy allows us to see it and catch it early, so have a colorectal discussion at your next check-up.
No matter what you choose, don’t put this test off for fear of discomfort.”
Holmdel Imaging is a state of the art diagnostic medical imaging provider of high quality, cost effective imaging services. Our center offers Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Breast MRI, Ultrasound, Computed Tomography (CT), Bone Density, Digital Mammography and X-Rays. Our mission at Holmdel Imaging is to provide the highest quality professional radiology services for our patients and referring physicians, combined with a friendly staff and convenient, comfortable facility. Our goal is to be recognized as the imaging center of choice in the region.
What is Holmdel Imaging doing to keep current with technological advances in radiology?
Over the past few years there have been significant advances in the field of radiology, and it’s our mission at Holmdel Imaging not only to be current, but as much as possible to stay ahead of the curve as innovations become available. We have just taken delivery on a GE Revolution 64-slice CT scanner, the latest state-of-the-art machine that delivers uncompromised image quality while using a lower dose of radiation.
We continually update with the latest software upgrades for MRI scans, to produce the clearest possible pictures. Our newest software improves image resolution while allowing for shorter scan times. Shorter scanning time is especially helpful for patients who are nervous or anxious, or those with physical problems that make it difficult to lie still for long periods of time.
We also provide the latest in 3D Digital Mammography, a screening and diagnostic tool for breast cancer screening developed a few years ago. It is a proven technology advance that offers significant advantages to our patients.
How does lower-dose CT scanning benefit your patients?
Our new 64-slice scanner with lower dose protocol is an exciting advance, because you want to reduce the amount of radiation exposure for patients as much as possible. Especially if a patient needs multiple scans, the lower dose helps to limit overall exposure. This machine offers the lowest radiation dose you can get to date without compromising image quality.
We hear a lot about 3-D mammography, but does it really make a difference?
We were one of the first facilities in the area to offer 3D mammography, ahead of even some of the hospitals. Both the traditional 2D and the new 3D scanning use X-rays, but 3D divides the breast into very small slices, so we can scroll through the images and see smaller lesions earlier than we could in the past.
The benefits of this are two-fold: First, we can find cancer earlier. According to a 2014 statistic, the increase in the cancer detection rate with 3D mammography is approximately 28.6 % for all cancers and 43.8% for invasive cancers. Secondly, with 3D we can now see when something that may have looked questionable before is not a cause for concern. This means that fewer women experience the anxiety that goes along with call-backs for further scans that then prove to be unnecessary.
As a patient, how do I decide which radiology facility is right for me?
Number one, you want to make sure that the doctors reading the studies are board-certified, with experience in reading all modalities. You want to find a place that has the latest equipment, and one with a staff that is accessible, friendly and accommodating. At Holmdel Imaging, we know that patients are under stress when they come in for a test, so we aim to make the experience as easy and comfortable as possible. Lastly, the cost of outpatient imaging is usually less than hospital imaging. Holmdel Imaging has 94 – 96% positive scores in monthly patient satisfaction surveys, confirming that the right facility is one that offers the best imaging, considerate staff, and lower cost.