Digital mammography is now available exclusively at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital

Digital mammography is now available exclusively at Avera Sacred Heart Hospital
Women who undergo routine mammograms now have the best diagnostic technology in the nation available to them. Avera Sacred Heart Hospital is the first health care provider in the greater Yankton region to feature this state-of-the-art system – Selenia digital mammography from Hologic.

Radiologist Lawrence Leon, MD, Diplomate American Board of Radi-ology, Yankton Radiology, said the digital technology is more advanced from conventional mammography, resulting in a benefit to the patient. "Images are reviewed on high-resolution computer monitors that enhance visualization of the structures within the breast tissue. This technology is a vast improvement on not only how the images of the breast are viewed but, more importantly, how the images are evaluated."

Leon added that the radiologist can adjust brightness and contrast, and zoom in on specific areas to help detect small calcifications, masses and other changes that may be signs of early cancer. "These special features allow the radiologist to evaluate microcalcifications and focus on areas of concern for a much better diagnosis."

To supplement this technology, Avera Sacred Heart has incorporated digital Computer-Aided Detection (CAD). CAD is, in essence, a second set of eyes to support and enhance the radiologist's judgment. Digital CAD highlights characteristics commonly associated with breast cancer. When activated, it flags abnormalities to help the radiologist detect breast cancer in its earliest stages.

"From a patient's perspective, women may notice shorter exam times and a reduction in call-backs to obtain additional images," explained Robin Berke, director of the Avera Sacred Heart Diagnostics & Imaging Center. "Other-wise, digital mammography may feel identical to conventional screening."

"For years, we have had women asking if Avera Sacred Heart has digital mammography," Berke continued. "And for the last several months, women have been waiting to get their mammograms done because they knew we were getting the new technology."

"We wanted to be responsive to needs and wishes of women and health care providers in the region by offering state-of-the-art technology," said President and CEO, Pamela J. Rezac, Ed.D. "As with any type of disease, the ability to prevent it or catch it early are always important. The digital mammography technology we have just purchased is unsurpassed in its ability to do just that, thus saving lives."

According to the American Cancer Society, yearly mammograms are recommended starting at age 40 and continuing for as long as a woman is in good health. Women should know how their breasts normally feel and report any breast change promptly to their health care providers. Women at high risk a mammogram every year.

The following guidelines from the American Cancer Society for the early detection of breast cancer are an important part of a woman's health plan:

Age 20-39:

  • Have a clinical breast exam by a doctor or nurse every three years.
  • Do a breast self-exam every month.

    Age 40 and over:

  • Have a mammogram every year.
  • Have a clinical breast exam by a doctor or nurse every year.
  • Do a breast self-exam every month.

    Berke explained that digital mammograms can be scheduled without a physician's order but a copy of the results will be sent to the patient's physician's office. Avera Sacred Heart has now expanded the hours for its digital mammography appointments to now include Thursday evenings and Saturday mornings.

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