A technology that provides three-dimensional (3D) imaging of the breast may represent the next generation in breast cancer detection.

Similar to computed tomography, tomosynthesis acquires multiple, low-dose images at different angles. The images are then used to produce a series of 1-mm-thick slices that can be viewed as a 3D reconstruction of the breast. Features that might be obscured in a traditional two-dimensional mammogram due to overlapping breast anatomy that may mimic or mask a tumor can be easily identified and characterized in the tomosynthesis-produced images. This can reduce the number of false-positive or false-negative findings.

The tomosynthesis unit resembles earlier mammography machines, and the amount of breast compression required is identical to that required for conventional mammography.

University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center (Cleveland, Ohio) was involved with early studies of the tomosynthesis technology, and has announced that its patients are among the first in the nation to be offered the system.

“This revolutionary new technology provides exceptionally sharp images and is an important new tool in our arsenal to detect breast cancer early, when it is treatable,” explained Donna Plecha, MD, director of breast imaging at the medical center, in a statement issued by UH Case Medical Center.