While breast cancer diagnoses and deaths are devastating, the mortality rate has been slowly declining since the late 1980s. Women and their loved ones have perhaps never been more aware of the importance of early detection and self-monitoring than they are today.
Physicians have also never had more advanced or numerous technologies at their disposal — advances that have both improved the precision and expanded the scope of breast cancer screening, diagnosing, staging, and monitoring.
- Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) — 3-D mammography helps physicians identify lesions that would be hidden among dense tissue when viewed with its 2-D x-ray predecessor. With nearly half of women receiving mammograms in the U.S. having dense breasts, this technology is critical to early detection.
- Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS) — Mammography alone can miss between 37 to 70 percent of cancers in women with dense breast tissue. ABUS supplements traditional mammograms with 3-D volumetric imaging of the entire breast from a variety of angles for better interpretation and in less time than traditional ultrasound.
- Breast Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) — Breast MRIs are primarily used for diagnosis and staging, although they are becoming more common as a complement to annual screenings in women with dense breasts, who have up to a six times greater chance of developing breast cancer.
These and other technologies have given physicians additional options to better suit the needs of individual patients and are undoubtedly beneficial for patient outcomes.
But what impact are these newer technologies having on back-end imaging workflows and storage?
3 Interoperability Challenges of Breast Imaging
1) Restricted Access to Prior Images
25 percent of screening patients and 60 percent of diagnostic patients do not have access to prior breast imaging, which can make detection and diagnosis far more difficult for physicians. Access to comparison exams improves early detection and decreases false-positives in both screening and diagnosis.
Many physicians do not have access to prior imaging due to a lack of interoperability between imaging systems within a health system or between two or more health systems. Physicians are often unable to retrieve or view data stored in a siloed system.
2) Increasing Study Size
2-D mammograms generate only two images of each breast, but 3-D DBT can capture 10 to 100 images of each breast. DBT requires greater image storage capacity and optimized workflows to speed the transmission of studies that are 10 to 20 times larger than traditional mammography studies. To support the inclusion of DBT, sites often implement a pre-fetch process.
3) Formatting Inconsistencies
When it comes to DBT image storage and sharing, facilities are prioritizing Breast Tomosynthesis Object (BTO) format over Secondary Object Capture (SCO). Archiving images as SCO requires half the storage, but also creates interoperability issues. When sharing SCOs to a PACS, recipients will not be able to view the tomo slices unless using the same viewing platform as the sender.
If you’re experiencing these or other interoperability or storage issues with increased imaging volumes, DataFirst can help.
Connect with us online or call 800-634-8504 to get started.