Jennifer Larson, NurseZone feature writer
Many women dread the
discomfort that comes with having a mammogram. They describe the sensation of the breast
scan as uncomfortable, awkward, and even painful.
Now, women have a
few options that can make their annual mammogram a little easier.
Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, is using a new mammogram machine with a feature
called “Max View.” This feature is designed to give a deeper view into cellular masses
to detect cancers that may be buried deep within breast tissue—cancers that might be
missed by a traditional mammogram.
According to the
medical center, this type of mammogram is more comfortable. The machine has sheets of
plastic that fit over the top and bottom of the patient’s breast, and the plastic draws
the breast into the machine for imaging.
Center spokesman Rick Plummer noted that this process alleviates the need for a technician
to adjust and reposition the breast inside the machine.
“It’s a lot
quicker, too,” Plummer said, explaining that the breast only remains inside the machine
for a few seconds.
The Easy Compression
System is another example of a new mammography system that strives to provide a more
comfortable experience for a patient. It is utilized in mammogram equipment like the
Performa, which is manufactured by Instrumentarium Imaging.
According to Don
Blomstrom, director of mammography for Instrumentarium Imaging, the system makes use of
more mobile surfaces of the breast, unlike conventional systems that press against
relatively taut stretches of skin. The system has a film holder that presses against the
bottom of the breast, and the technician can maneuver it up against the breast, rather
than the other way around. The compression plate can also be moved.
compression makes it more comfortable for the patient because it is the system’s
components that move around, instead of the breast, Blomstrom said.
Also, he added,
it’s easier for the technician to use because they don’t have to lift the breast up
and position and readjust it.
Another product on
the market aims to soften the impact of the compression plates of the mammogram machine,
but it’s a little lower tech.
The MammoPad is an
adhesive foam cushion about the size of a mousepad. Manufactured by BioLucent, Inc., the
MammoPad is designed for one-time use. The mammography tech puts the MammoPad on the
surface of the compression plates to provide a softer, warmer surface for the breast and
lessens the likelihood of pinching.
BioLucent officials, the cushion especially helps women who have had breast cancer that
was treated by surgery and radiation. These women usually have scar tissue from the
treatment, and the MammoPad lessens the pain of the necessary follow-up mammograms.
BioLucent cites the results of a study it conducted in San Antonio, Texas last year.
The MammoPad is
currently available at nearly 1,000 beast care centers in the United States. Most do not
charge for the use of the cushion.
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