News & Events

3D Mammography coming to Box Butte General Hospital

According to the American College of Radiologists, women should start annual breast mammography screenings at the age of 40. For years, those annual examinations have been conducted at BBGH using 2D mammography technology. That’s about to change.

3D mammography technology is coming to Box Butte General Hospital (BBGH) by January of 2019, the first in the Panhandle region. It’s been proven that 20-65 percent more invasive breast cancers are detected using 3D technology. Research has shown it also reduces callbacks by up to 40 percent, compared to 2D technology.

“We want to share this exciting news with our area communities.”  said BBGH Diagnostic Imaging Department Manager Carolyn Anglesey.  “With the improved detection and reduced false positives this new technology provides, they will be able to come to us for this service to aid in the early detection of breast cancer.” 

Why is 3D mammography better than 2D? “Think of a book,” Ms. Anglesey said. “Traditional 2D technology is like looking at a book that is closed. All the pages are together, with the words overlapping making it hard to read. A small tumor is more difficult to see. That’s also why there are more false positives that occur, where the patient gets called back for another exam. And we all know how stressful that can be. With 3D mammography the radiologist can take that book and now open it up and read each page one at a time. That helps the radiologist see what is on every single page (or layer) of the breast. That helps the radiologist find cancers that might normally be more difficult to see with 2D mammography.”

The other important 3D enhancement is the before mentioned reduction in call backs needed. National statistics show that 10 percent of women who had a mammogram get called back for additional testing. Of those call backs, 80 percent are false positives. BBGH mammography technologist Amber Smith said, “3D mammography cuts down on false-positives.  Women know how stressful it is waiting for the additional testing and then waiting for the results, then most of the time finding out that everything is normal. Having 3D technology reducing callbacks by up to 40 percent is a huge plus for the peace of mind of our patients.” Call backs can also be expensive for the patient, according to Ms. Smith. An annual mammogram is preventative screening and frequently covered by insurance. However if a patient gets called back for additional diagnostics it’s no longer preventative care. The patient may pay the out-of-pocket deductible, which could be several hundred dollars.

BBGH’s radiologists have already been trained using 3D mammography, as mandated by the FDA. When the chosen 3D mammography unit arrives at the Diagnostic Imaging Department at BBGH, mammography radiology techs will also be trained by vendor representatives.

“We will be sending out annual reminder letters to women who have had their preventive screenings done using our department in the past year to provide information about these changes,” Ms. Anglesey concluded. “We also send out notices to patients whose most recent mammograms indicated they have dense breast tissue.  Dense breast tissue is a finding that is present in about 40 percent of women. Having that condition can make it more difficult to detect cancer using traditional 2D mammography. 3D mammography will make a big difference with imaging dense breast tissue. We are excited to have 3D mammography available at BBGH for annual screening by January.” This is another great example of BBGH’s commitment to providing an excellent patient experience.

Box Butte General Hospital is an equal opportunity provider and employer.