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New digital mammography technology enhances patient care

Posted Dec 9th, 2009

Patients in Niagara now have access to digital mammography technology for breast examinations with the acquisition by the Niagara Health System (NHS) of a $800,000 digital mammography unit.

The new digital mammography unit at the St. Catharines General Site provides breast images with outstanding clarity and contrast, leading to a quick diagnosis and quality patient care.

“This new digital technology will enhance patient care in many important ways,” says Niagara Health Chief of Radiology Dr. Amit Mehta. “Since the technology will be integrated into the regional PACS system, radiologists, surgeons, and other specialists will be able to simultaneously view and consult on a patient’s mammography from a computer within the hospital or the physicians’ offices.”

With digital mammography, low-energy X-rays pass through the breast exactly like conventional mammograms but the image is recorded by means of an electronic digital detector, instead of film. Like a digital camera, this digital image can be displayed on a computer screen. The radiologist can manipulate the digital mammogram electronically to magnify an area, change contrast, or alter the brightness. In addition, computer aided diagnosis programs can be used to further increase the sensitivity of the test.

The equipment is located at the St. Catharines General Site thanks to the ongoing fundraising efforts of the St. Catharines General Hospital Foundation.

"We were thrilled when Bryan Adams agreed to visit our city once again to perform to a sold out audience in September in 2008 for this very important piece of equipment,” stated Ameer Wakil, President of the Board of Directors, SCGH Foundation. “The concert raised nearly $250,000 toward this new digital mammography unit, the first of its kind in all of Niagara. Through the generosity of many donors as recent as the Johnny Reid concert this past October, the SCGH Foundation has secured $700,000 toward the goal of $800,000. We are so proud of the generosity from our community and for the understanding of how early cancer detection saves lives.”

NHS operates five Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP) centres at the following sites: Douglas Memorial Site (Fort Erie), Greater Niagara General Site (Niagara Falls), Port Colborne Site, St. Catharines General Site and Welland Site.

Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Welland OBSP Centres offer full screening services as well as follow-up diagnostics and treatment services. Satellite OBSP clinics in Port Colborne and Fort Erie offer nurse examination and screening mammography with follow-up care provided at Greater Niagara or Welland sites.

All screening centres are accredited through the Canadian Association of Radiologists.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Caroline Bourque Wiley
Consultant, Public Affairs
905-378-4647, ext. 43113

Niagara Health System