Kettering General Hospital has invested £600,000 in its breast imaging service to replace equipment and expand its screening capacity to enable us to continue to deliver three yearly mammograms to the women of North Northamptonshire when the coronavirus emergency ends.
The hospital has replaced an old 2D mammography biopsy machine with a state-of-the-art £350,000 3D machine which enables clinicians to better identify smaller lesions and cancers and perform quicker and more accurate biopsies.
It has also purchased a second mobile breast screening van which will enable it to perform up to 7,000 additional screenings for women each year – making the service quicker, and more convenient and accessible to local people.
Breast Screening Programme Manager Deborah Black said: “At the moment elements of the routine breast screening programme are on pause because of the coronavirus national emergency.
“However we are still seeing follow-up cancer patients, urgent GP appointments and higher risk breast screening patients and will resume routine breast screening when an announcement is made on this nationally.
“Before the current crisis we identified the need to invest in new technology and expand our breast imaging capacity for the 21,000 women we normally see each year for either routine screening or symptomatic referrals and follow-up surveillance mammography.
“We have now taken delivery of both a new 3D mammography biopsy machine and a new breast screening van.
“They will be a great benefit to us when we resume screening and begin the task of catching up on the backlog of work which we will have accrued.”
Women will be contacted automatically by Kettering Breast Screening unit when the screening programme resumes.
The new 3D scanner is a GE Pristina Biopsy Machine which takes nine x-ray images and then reconstructs them into a single three dimensional one.
The improved image makes it easier for clinicians to study very small lesions and potential cancers. It is also used to quickly and accurately carry out a biopsy based on the information from the scan.
This reduces the need for repeat tests and is quicker, more accurate, and gives clinicians more information about the area being investigated.
The new machine is based inside a fully refurbished room and will help to diagnose up to 250 patients per year. It will reduce the need for some patients to travel to other hospitals to have specialist 3D biopsy MRI scans.
The new machine can also be used to perform Contrast Enhanced Mammography and this will mean Kettering of only a few units in the region which perform this procedure.
A contrast-enhanced spectral mammography test (CESM) is a type of mammogram (x-ray of the breast) that aims to ‘highlight’ areas of concern within the breast. The difference between a CESM and a standard mammogram is the use of a special dye (called a ‘contrast medium’) that is injected into the veins before the mammogram images are taken. The contrast-enhanced images give more detailed information to the breast radiology consultants who analyse breast imaging.