SEATTLE, Nov. 5, 2009 – Swedish's First Hill Diagnostic Imaging Center has added an important new tool for the early detection of hard-to-identify breast cancers. Breast-Specific Gamma Imaging (BSGI) is a nuclear medicine procedure that images the metabolic activity of breast lesions using a high-resolution gamma camera.
"Found and treated early, breast cancer is highly curable," said Bruce Porter, M.D., medical director of the Imaging Center. "Mammography is the primary method of early detection, but some women have complex breast tissue that requires additional testing. BSGI is a logical adjunct to mammography and breast ultrasound – and a smart, intermediate step before more expensive or invasive tests."
BSGI has proven effective for both early detection and clear differentiation between malignant and benign tissue. It is particularly valuable for women with dense breasts – or those with multiple suspicious lesions or lesions not identified through traditional mammography.
Swedish is one of only six West Coast medical centers – and the only facility in the Puget Sound region – to install the latest Dilon 6800 gamma camera with BSGI capability. It can identify lesions independent of tissue density and is capable of duplicating standard mammographic views.
"For the foreseeable future, self-examination and mammography will remain the first steps in the process," emphasized Dr. Porter. "But for specific groups of women, BSGI will serve an increasingly important role."
BSGI is especially useful with patients who have:
- Dense breast tissue
- Suspicious areas on a mammogram
- Lumps that can be felt but not seen with mammography or ultrasound
- Breast implants or augmentation
- Scarring from previous surgeries
Also, it is appropriate for women who cannot have a breast MRI due to metal in the body, negative reaction to contrast agents, or previous renal failure.
Functional imaging techniques such as BSGI capture an image of metabolic activity. Cancer cells have a much higher rate of activity than surrounding normal tissue and BSGI makes those areas appear brighter. Structural and anatomical imaging, such as mammography, take pictures of the structures within the breast – cysts, glands, ducts, tumors, scar tissue and others – that are normal or abnormal. The challenge comes when several of these structures overlay each other, obscuring the cancer on a mammogram.
BSGI evolved from a related nuclear medicine procedure of the breast, scintimammograpy, which has been in use for 10 years. Both are based on the uptake of the pharmaceutical agent sestamibi in tumors within the breast.
The BSGI procedure involves capturing two images of each breast and usually takes 45 to 60 minutes. Only moderate pressure is required to help form and stabilize the breast, making BSGI much more comfortable than a traditional mammogram. No pre-procedure preparation is required and the pharmaceutical tracing agent is absorbed within five minutes, so scanning can begin almost immediately.
BSGI testing at Swedish costs $550 and is covered by most insurance plans. That is roughly one-quarter the cost of a breast MRI exam.
The Dilon 6800 system is mobile, so it can work for bedside imaging or intra-operative use. It allows for positioning very close to the body, resulting in superior imaging. And the technology can provide same-day results – much faster than most other imaging techniques or surgical biopsy.
The gamma camera has more than 3,000 individual crystals and 48 position-sensitive photomultiplier tubes for high-performance resolution. The technology works very close to the chest wall, minimizing so-called ‘dead space' in the image. A moveable detector head allows imaging in all mammographic positions, plus selective study of hard-to-reach areas.
For more information on Breast-Specific Gamma Imaging, contact the Swedish First Hill Diagnostic Imaging Center at 1-888-676-7361 or 206-329-6767 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
About Dilon Technologies
Based in Newport News, Va., Dilon Technologies was founded in 1996 to design, manufacture and commercialize innovative new products based on research conducted at national laboratories. For more information, visit www.dilon.com
Swedish is the largest, most comprehensive nonprofit health provider in the Greater Seattle area. It is comprised of three hospital campuses – First Hill, Cherry Hill and Ballard – a freestanding emergency department and ambulatory care center in Issaquah, Swedish Visiting Nurse Services, and the Swedish Physician Division – a network of more than 40 primary-care and specialty clinics located throughout the Greater Seattle area. It has also broken ground on a new medical campus in the Issaquah Highlands, which will eventually include a comprehensive ambulatory care center, five-story medical office building (targeted to open in summer 2011), and 175-bed acute-care community hospital (the first phase of which is slated to open at the end of first quarter 2012). In addition to general medical and surgical care, Swedish is known as a regional referral center, providing specialized treatment in areas such as cardiovascular care, cancer care, neuroscience, orthopedics, high-risk obstetrics, pediatrics, organ transplantation and clinical research. For more information, visit www.swedish.org.
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