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Q&A with Dr Elizabeth A. Morris, President of the Society of Breast Imaging

por Lauren Dubinsky, Senior Reporter | July 06, 2015
Dr. Elizabeth A. Morris
From the July 2015 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HealthCare Business News spoke with Dr. Elizabeth A. Morris, president of the Society of Breast Imaging, about her experience with tomosynthesis and what direction she thinks the technology is headed in.

HCBN: How do you think the health care industry as a whole feels about tomosynthesis? Are they more excited or more uncertain about it?
I think they are excited. The preliminary studies that have come out have clearly shown that it overall increases cancer detection and decreases recall rates. There is a learning curve for radiologists associated with implementing tomosynthesis, but it appears that there is a great benefit to women. Critics of screening mammography are saying that mammography does not pick up enough cancers and it causes too much harm by having patients recalled for additional views. Tomosynthesis is able to address these specific criticisms of screening digital mammography.

HCBN: As a physician, what has been your experience with tomosynthesis?
I get a much better view of what is in the breast than with a full-field digital mammogram. I would much rather read a tomosynthesis exam, because I have increased confidence that I have evaluated all of a patient’s breast and that if there is a cancer hiding in dense breast tissue I will have a better chance of seeing it.

HCBN: Does the technology have a learning curve?
Breast Imagers are required to go through a training program in order to understand how to interpret the images and recognize potential artifacts. Tomosynthesis is basically seeing the same information as on a mammogram but in greater detail. I feel very comfortable reading a tomosynthesis exam as I’m seeing a much more detailed view of the breast.

It does take me a lot longer to look at a tomosynthesis examination because there are more images — with a standard mammogram you’re only looking at four images but with tomosynthesis you are multiplying that by at least 10, if not 20 times, depending on the thickness of the imaging slice.

HCBN: CMS is now providing reimbursement for tomosynthesis, which was a huge hurdle, but are there any hurdles still in the way of widespread adoption?
I would say that there is little resistance to widespread adoption other than the fact that it takes a long time for people to convert their existing base of mammographic units over to units capable of tomosynthesis. It’s expensive, so people are not going to do that overnight; it’s going to be a process.

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