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McDonough District Hospital Now Offers 3D Mammograms

TSPR's Emily Boyer
The new 3D mammography machine at MDH in Macomb. The staff said a breast exam takes about 3 minutes to complete

McDonough District Hospital has replaced its 2D mammography machine with a unit that takes both 2D and 3D images. 

Dr. Afriye Amerson who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology, said the 3D technology does a significantly better job. “There are less false positives, less unnecessary biopsy, and greater detection so it allows patients the greater advantage of early diagnosis,” Amerson said.

MDH hosted an open house this week to show off the new machine and the images it produces. Dr. Alvin Weintraub in radiology showed side by side comparisons of the 3D images and 2D images.  

He noted the difference in quality by describing a loaf of bread. He said the 2D image would simply show a picture of the entire loaf. But, the 3D image captures the depth, cuts the loaf into slices, and examines each one. Weintraub said the machine is 30% more likely to detect breast cancer.

Credit TSPR's Emily Boyer
The two images on the left show the breast from the top. The two images on the right were taken from the side. In both sets, the left photo is 3D and the right is 2D. The doctor was able to scroll through the 3D images to examine the breadth and depth of the masses. He said the mass captured by the side view appears to be cancerous.

Dr. Amerson said the patient will not notice anything different about the actual breast exam. “It’s like the difference between someone taking a picture of you with their cell phone, versus a professional photographer taking your picture. From your perspective it’s still someone taking your picture,” Amerson said.  

Amerson said until now, women have had to travel outside of the county in order to access 3D mammography services and subsequently many of them would continue their medical care at those facilities if follow up appointments were necessary.

But now, Amerson said women throughout the region can access the same level of technology at MDH and continue their care at the hospital.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Amerson said anyone with a family history of breast or cervical cancer or women more than 40 years old should talk with their doctor about getting screened. Amerson said same day and next day appointments for 3D mammograms are currently available.  

Amerson said McDonough District Hospital redirected funding to pay for the new machine in order to improve medical services for women. The hospital is also planning a groundbreaking for early next year to mark an expansion of it space for labor and delivery. 

Emily Boyer is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.