Women's Diagnostic Center
Meadville Medical Center's Women's Diagnostic Center offers cutting-edge digital mammography and associated technologies. This advanced screening tool aids in the early detection and treatment of breast cancer. The center at the Liberty Street facility, incorporates two digital mammography units, a breast biopsy room, breast ultrasound equipment and bone density screening.
Women who undergo routine mammograms at MMC have the latest diagnostic technology available. MMC's Women's Diagnostic Center features the state-of-the-art, Selenia Dimensions™, digital mammography system from Hologic™. "We are very excited to offer the newest technology for breast cancer detection," said Dr. Frederic McDermott, board-certified radiologist and medical director of Radiology Services at MMC. "Digital mammography is different from conventional mammography in how the image of the breast is acquired and, more importantly, viewed." The radiologist can magnify the images, increase or decrease the contrast and perform numerous image manipulations on a dedicated computer work station. These features allow the radiologist to better evaluate microcalcifications and areas of concern. In addition, women having mammograms at the Women's Diagnostic Center benefit from computer-aided detection (CAD) technology. CAD works like a second pair of eyes and improves the process of mammography screening by calling a radiologist's attention to subtle changes in tissue that may indicate the presence of cancer.
Terry Beck, manager of the Radiology Services at MMC, commented, "digital mammography offers a number of practical advantages and patient conveniences, such as not waiting for film to be developed because digital images are immediately available. The technologist can evaluate the quality of the images as they're taken. Patients spend less time in the exam room and rarely need to return for repeat images. The digital machine is fast, so patients spend less time in uncomfortable positions. Digital images are also easily stored and retrieved." Beck added. "We are pleased to note that Meadville Medical Center was permanently certified as a "Breast Imaging Center of Excellence" by the American College of Radiology's (ACR) Commission on Quality and Safety, and the Commission on Breast Imaging. It is one of a select group of hospitals to meet the rigid standards of this certification. In order to receive this designation, a center must be fully accredited in mammography, stereotactic breast biopsy and breast ultrasound by the ACR, including the ultrasound-guided breast biopsy module."
The design for the new breast imaging center was determined in part from focus groups that were held with members of the community who offered valuable suggestions. Denise Johnson, MD, chief medical officer of MMC, said, "participants in our focus groups wanted the latest technology in a center that was comfortable and convenient. Women were particularly interested in having results shared wtih them as soon as possible. In keeping with their wishes, a radiologist will be on site and immediate biopsies will be offered when appropriate. Privacy was also a priority, and that recommendation prompted the development of a distinct center apart from the general radiology area."
"The commitment of the Women's Diagnostic Center is to maximize the expertise and rapidity with which mammograms are interpreted," continued Dr. Johnson. "We believe that we should do everything we can to alleviate or minimize anxiety a women feels until she receives the refults of her mammogram."
The breast imaging center also offers stereotactic breast biopsy and breast ultrasound. Dr. McDermott noted, "stereotactic breast biopsy is a safe and minimally invasive way to perform a breast biopsy. Biopsies are the only definitive way to confirm that a breast abnormality is benign or not. It should be emphasized that stereotactic breast biopsy is an alternative to open or surgical biopsy for some patients. A sample of suspect breast tissue is precisely located with a computer-guided imaging system and removed with a needle. Samples are then sent for examination by a pathologist. The procedure is completed on an outpatient basis with a minimum of discomfort, recovery time, and much less scarring."
In addition to digital mammography and stereotactic breast biopsy, the center offers breast ultrasound that under certain circumstances can substantially aid in diagnosis. Breast ultrasound can also be used to guide the placement of a needle or tube in order to drain an infection, take a sample of breast tissue, or guide breast surgery. A small handheld unit called a transducer is gently passed back and forth over the breast without the use of x-rays or other types of radiation.
Meadville Medical Center also offers breast MRI and MRI-guided breast biopsies. This sophisticated technology uses magnetic fields and radio waves to image the soft tissues of the body without discomfort to the patient. Both breasts are imaged simultaneously without need for compression. High Definition Breast MRI provides doctors with unprecedented imaging clarity for a more accurate diagnosis. Breast biopsies guided in real-time by magnetic resonance imaging is the latest development and an important advance in diagnosing breast cancer. MMC is one of the few facilities outside Pittsburgh that performs this procedure in northwest Pennsylvania.
The Women's Diagnostic Center also houses DEXA-scan equipment, which is the most exact way to measure bone density to predict the possibility of osteoporosis.
The American Cancer Society recommends yearly mammograms for women starting at age 40 for patients without a family history of cancer and with no specific symptoms.
Meadville Medical Center's Radiology Department performed approximately 8,000 mammograms in 2009. MMC board-certified radiologists combine their training, expertise and experience to read and interpret mammograms. In addition, MMC's mammography technologists are specially trained and certified by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists.