Monadnock Community Hospital gets 3D mammography machine

Mammography technicians Marissa Bradley and Wendy Walthers stand next to the new 3D mammography machine,Dimensions, at Monadnock Community Hospital.

Mammography technicians Marissa Bradley and Wendy Walthers stand next to the new 3D mammography machine,Dimensions, at Monadnock Community Hospital. Purchase photo reprints at Photo Finder »

PETERBOROUGH — While sitting at his desk with four computer monitors in front of him, Dr. Mark Luedke, director of radiology at Monadnock Community Hospital, uses the scroll bar on his computer mouse to view a patient’s entire breast from one side to the other. As he scrolls, the different layers of tissues and veins appear and go away as he examines 15 views of the inside of the breast, something he’s never been able to do before.

Monadnock Community Hospital is one of only a few hospitals in the state with a new 3D mammography machine that will increase cancer detection rates and reduce the need for additional appointments.

“It’s a complete paradigm shift in mammography,” Luedke said in an interview Monday.

At first, mammography images were developed on film, Luedke said, and could only take one view of everything inside the breast. Then digital mammography evolved and X-rays started being developed and viewed on computers, but still containing one view of the entire breast. Now with tomosynethesis, radiologists can examine the internal layers of breast tissue three-dimensionally, in 15 mm “slices,” Luedke said. The new machine, an FDA-approved Selenia Dimensions system, allows a radiologist can view the internal layers of the breast and not just a one-sided view.

Luedke said there is a little bit less compression on the breast with the 3D machine.

“The other plus side for women is it reduces the call back rate by 40 percent,” said Luedke, so radiologists are less likely to need a patient to come back for additional mammography views.

“So women don’t have to sit and wait for weeks wondering what their X-rays showed,” Luedke said.

At the hospital on Monday, mammography technician Wendy Walthers, referring to the machine’s website, said, “Breast tomosynthesis plus digital mammography provided a 27-percent improvement in cancer detection rates with 40-percent increase in invasive cancer detection.”

It is recommended by the American Cancer Association that women start having annual breast exams at the age of 40, Walthers said. The younger a woman is, the denser the breast. With the new machine, the mammography technicians do not need to compress the breast more for a clearer image.

“The quality is better,” Walthers said. “It’s a very, very low dose of radiation.”

The radiology department just acquired the new machine in May and is currently training the technicians who will use it. Until then, the department will continue to use 2D mammography equipment. To schedule a mammogram, contact the mammography department at 924-7191, ext. 4149.

Luedke went to Dimensions training recently and said he was surprised as to how much tomosynthesis can pick up within the breast.

They’re “incredible images,” Luedke said. “It’s taking mammography to another level.”

Lindsey Arceci can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 232, or

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