"We've proven that telemammography works," said the study's lead author, Alan R. Melton, M.D., assistant clinical professor of radiology at New York Presbyterian Hospital-Columbia University Medical Center in New York City. "The ability to transmit mammograms over long distances could significantly help to solve the crisis in access to screening mammography, as well as improve the accuracy of interpretation of the examinations."
According to a 2004 report from the Institute of Medicine, women's access to breast cancer screening is endangered due to a shortage of specialists in breast imaging and interpretation. Between 2000 and 2003, the number of mammography facilities operating in the United States dropped from 9,400 to 8,600 (an 8.5 percent decrease), causing women in some areas delays of up to five months for screening mammography services. One cause of the shortage has been the historically low level of reimbursement for mammography interpretation and the high level of medico-legal risk.
Dr. Melton's study, which included 1,314 diagnostic screening mammograms, determined that it is possible to transmit full-field digital mammography (FFDM) images to another location for interpretation without compromising accuracy, security or the use of computer-aided detection software.
In his study, Dr. Melton used two FFDM units and a computer-aided detection (CAD) system. The digital images were transmitted via Internet cable in a highly secure environment, including private networks and firewalls, to an interpreting workstation 110 miles away. Each image was transmitted in less than 45 seconds.
Through a series of tests, the researchers determined that digital mammograms sent to the remote workstation were identical to the original
Contact: Maureen Morley
Radiological Society of North America