MCG is one of some 20 centers across the world studying impedance scanning, a technique based on evidence that electrical current passes through cancerous tissue more easily than normal tissue.
Preliminary studies have shown the technique, which takes about 10 minutes and doesn't require often-uncomfortable breast compression, can pick up very small tumors, according to its developers, Z-Tech, Inc., which has offices in South Carolina and Ontario.
The study of some 4,500 women about 500 at MCG Medical Center will determine whether the device, which produces a report rather than a breast image, is accurate enough for widespread use, says Dr. James H. Craft, MCG radiologist and a principal investigator.
Impedance scanning involves placing a flower-shaped grouping of electrodes with a hole in the center for the nipple over each breast. A small amount of electricity is sent through the breasts and a computer immediately calculates and presents findings based on Z-Tech's benchmarks for negative and positive results. Rather than waiting for a radiologist to look at an X-ray, the computer immediately notes whether the image is HEDA negative, meaning no cancer detected, or positive.
"For a number of years now, it's been known that when a malignancy happens in the breast, the impedance of electricity through that area decreases," Dr. Craft says. "Apparently, cell permeability increases so water flows through the cells more than in normal tissue. The electrical signature of that tissue is different." Electrocardiograms, which have been used for years to assess heart muscle, also are based on the theory that normal and diseased tissue conduct electricity differently.
Potential study enrollees include healthy women who get a screening mammogram and opt to get the additional el
Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia