Mammogram Via Satellite Helps Rural Women

Technology may end long waits for out-of-the-way patients, experts say

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WEDNESDAY, Nov. 29, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- By using digital mammograms and a satellite link-up, radiologists in Michigan were able to examine the mammograms of rural Native American women in North Dakota and South Dakota.

This pilot program by University of Michigan researchers was designed as an improvement over the use of films typically used in mobile mammography. Currently, it can take up to a week for women to get their results after having a mobile mammogram, and it can also be difficult to arrange for additional tests.

"Mobile mammography is a critical way for Native American women to get a mammogram. But what happens when a woman needs to be called back for more images? By transmitting the mammograms by satellite, a radiologist could read them on the spot, and three-quarters of the women who needed new images had those done immediately or within fewer than three days," Dr. Marilyn Roubidoux, professor of radiology at the U-M Medical School, said in a prepared statement.

In this pilot program, a mobile mammography unit performed 515 digital mammograms on women living on seven reservations in North Dakota and South Dakota. The images were then transmitted by satellite to the Breast Imaging Division of the university's radiology department.

On average, it took about 50 minutes from the time the mammography images were sent until the women received a report about the findings. In some cases, when weather and technological factors were perfect, results came back within 30 minutes.

Of the 58 women who had to have additional mammograms, 72 percent were able to get them done immediately or within three days, the researchers found.

The images transmitted by satellite were equal in quality to the digital mammograms done on site at the U-M Breast Imaging Clinic, the study said.

The findings of this pilot program were to be presented Tuesday in Chicago at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America.

More information

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has more about digital mammography.

SOURCE: University of Michigan, news release, Nov. 28, 2006


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