New WLMH mammography machine up and running
The latest upgrade to diagnostic services at Hamilton Health Sciences’ (HHS) West Lincoln Memorial Hospital (WLMH) is new state-of-the-art mammography equipment that provides routine 2D mammography as well as 3D imaging, also called tomosynthesis.
Mammography technologists at WLMH started using the new machine — a GE model called the Pristina — earlier this month. It replaces the hospital’s aging mammography machine, and is part of upgrades through Managed Equipment Services (MES).
The HHS Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre’s CIBC Breast Assessment Centre (BAC) in Hamilton received three of the same model of machines.
“WLMH now has a top-of-the-line mammography machine with all the bells and whistles to perform screening mammograms, diagnostic studies in people with breast concerns and tomosynthesis,” says Dr. Kavita Dhamanaskar, an HHS radiologist with expertise in breast imaging. Dhamanaskar was part of the MES team that was instrumental in bringing the new machines to WLMH and the BAC.
The new machines provide traditional 2D digital mammography for routine breast screening as well as leading-edge 3D technology. With 2D mammography, two x-ray images are taken – one from the top of the breast and one from the side. The 3D mammography provides a more detailed look by obtaining a set of breast images at different angles.
Radiologists recommend tomosynthesis views when a person is recalled for further evaluation of abnormal findings on routine mammogram. This more advanced 3D scan can also be used for screening people with dense breasts.
Improved experience for patients and staff
Until this month, WLMH patients needing detailed assessment or extra views were sent to the BAC. “Now these patients can have complete diagnostic assessment right here in Grimsby instead of travelling into Hamilton,” says WLMH clinical manager Bethany Hancocks, whose responsibilities include diagnostic imaging.
Patients have shared that they’re pleased with the new machine, which is designed to provide a more comfortable experience, says WLMH mammography technologist Natasha Brandel. It’s also more user friendly for technologists, provides higher-quality scans than its predecessor, and is faster.
It has been a big year for diagnostics at WLMH, with a new CT scanner added in summer and now the new mammography machine. It’s all part of a plan to replace and upgrade most of the site’s diagnostic imaging fleet.
Ontario Breast Screening Program
WLMH is home to an Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) site, serving West Niagara and Hamilton residents. The OBSP offers free mammograms to people ages 50 to 74 as part of their routine health care. It’s recommended that most women in this age group get a mammogram every two years since early detection can catch breast cancer when it’s small and is easier to treat.
Anyone in the 50 to 74 year age group who’s due or overdue for a mammogram is encouraged to book their own appointment by phone at an OBSP site that’s most convenient for them. A referral is not necessary, although appointments can also be booked through a person’s primary care provider.
This year, due to delays caused by the pandemic, women aged 75 can also book their own appointment. Outside of the provincial breast screening program, women over 75 and under 50 can book through their primary care provider if screening is deemed necessary due to personal circumstances such as a family history.
“Now is the perfect time for people who are due or overdue to book their mammogram,” says Dhamanaskar.