Imaging News

MGH Hotline 3.18.11

3D mammography

MGH Imaging attains a medical first


IMAGING ADVANCES: Rafferty in the breast tomosynthesis exam room/p>

The MGH celebrated a medical milestone March 7, when the Breast Imaging Division scanned the first U.S. patient using breast tomosynthesis, a revolutionary three-dimensional (3D) mammogram imaging technology.

Pioneered by the division after more than a decade of research, breast tomosynthesis recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The scan is performed at the same time as a conventional mammogram using the same scanner, which moves in an arc over the patient rather than remaining stationary. The process, however, produces multiple images, rather than a single two-dimensional frame, allowing radiologists to move back and forth through multiple image slices.

"Like flipping through the pages of a book, the radiologist is now able to look at one page at a time instead of seeing the whole breast reduced to a single frame, as is the case with standard mammography," says  Elizabeth Rafferty, MD, director of the MGH Breast Imaging Division.

In addition to improving detection, the new technology can help rule out abnormalities that might appear suspicious in a traditional two-dimensional mammogram. This reduces the need for additional imaging or biopsies.

Breast tomosynthesis is available for annual mammogram screening as well as for diagnostic purposes. For more information, access


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