In a joint news conference Monday, Mercy Medical Center, UnityPoint Health-St. Luke’s Hospital, Radiology Consultants of Iowa and OB-GYN Associates unveiled new technology specifically designed to aid women with dense breast tissue.
Called Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS), the machine collects ultrasound images of the whole breast that allows health care professionals to detect cancer or other abnormalities that otherwise might go unnoticed in a mammogram.
“We rarely go a time without hearing of friends or family, and certainly in my own patients, that’s gone through this potential episode, so we want to make sure we have the leading edge of technology available,” said Dr. Tim Quinn, Mercy’s chief of clinical operations.
An ABUS machine now is located at each of the four centers.
Use of ABUS would be a supplemental exam to an annual mammogram for women who have dense breast tissue, said Dr. Arnold Honick, a radiologist at Radiology Consultants as well as the medical director at St. Luke’s Breast and Bone Health and at Mercy’s Women’s Center.
Dense breast tissue refers to the appearance of the breast tissue. When viewed on a mammogram, women with dense breasts have more supportive tissue than fatty tissue. This dense, supportive tissue appears as white on a mammogram, Honick said.
“The importance of that is as density increases, it makes it more difficult for us to find smaller lesions because they as well are going to be white on mammograms,” Honick said. “Therefore, if the patient has denser breast tissue, growth from the breast that would normally be white would be difficult to find.”