Watch this segment from Germany’s West Deutscher Rundfunk TV channel which reports on how women in Europe are choosing the AB-CT nu:view CT scanner for their breast examinations. The 3-D images produced by the scanners’ Direct Conversion X-ray detectors are high-quality, low dose and acquired rapidly, with no discomfort.
This examination is called a mammogram. It is something every woman will have to experience in her life, from 50 onwards and it matters because about 70 000 women in Germany are diagnosed with breast cancer every year.
A mammogram, however, can be difficult and some women will turn down the opportunity because it can be very painful. But now there’s an alternative: the Mamma-CT. And one of the first of four systems being used around the world is installed in Dortmund, at the clinic of Professor Uhlenbrock & Partners.
Breast diagnosis in a new dimension: high resolution, 3-dimensional images of a female breast, acquired using a breast CT scanner, the Mamma-CT. Julia Trappe wants to try the new diagnostic method. The 38-year-old has seen breast cancer at its deadliest in her circle of family and friends. She has now signed up for a preventive exam.
Mrs. Trappe (Patient):
As I wasn’t included in any breast screening program, I decided to arrange an examination myself. I had a very negative experience at my first examination; it was extremely painful. Then, I heard about this new method which is supposed to be completely pain free. Also, I’ve been told the images generated with this new method are much more accurate and detailed, and can detect problems very early on.
Unlike with a mammography exam, the breast isn’t being compressed but hanging into this cylinder. The radiation exposure generated by the new device is very small and the complete exam will only take 2-3 minutes per breast.
Dr. Karsten Ridder (Breast Radiologist):
Very good, please position your arm and now try to relax.
Today one of Dr Ridder’s radiological team was offered a Covid vaccination at short notice, so Dr. Ridder is supporting the patient himself and carrying out the examination.
Please don’t move, I’m starting the X-ray now.
About 20% of all women, like Julia Trappe, are afraid of breast screening, says the radiologist. For those patients, the completely painless CT exam is an alternative.
In addition, women with more complex issues, for example because of silicone implants, or women who have other problems that cannot be studied using a magnetic resonance (MR) device are suited to the CT study.
Because of a pacemaker, for example?
For example because of a pacemaker, or because they are claustrophobic.
Even the smallest changes, as in this example, are visible three dimensionally.
The radiologist demonstrates the difference in spatial resolution between a typical mammogram and here, the breast CT.
This machine might not be the holy grail for detecting breast cancer, but I am convinced it is an important building block in the portfolio of tools that we should provide to our patients. Mammography will continue to be used, as will ultrasound and magnetic resonance (MRI), but the CT, which we have been using for a year in our centre, is definitely a milestone.
There is absolutely no pain, no pressure, I am lying here comfortably.
However, the new method is expensive. So far, in Germany only private insurance companies cover the cost of the examination of about 350 €. Julia Trappe paid for the examination herself.