Raleigh Radiology president, Dr. Donald Detweiler.
When Raleigh Radiology Associates of Raleigh, NC moved to a new office location, they decided the time was right to change the way they performed mammography and go digital. With a team of 19 board-certified radiologists and four sites in the greater Raleigh area, Raleigh Radiology serves a high volume of patients, screening at least 200 patients each day.
Raleigh Radiology president, Donald G. Detweiler, M.D., explains that the evidence for moving into digital mammography was compelling. “When it comes to image quality and the ability to manipulate images for a better view, we find the difference to be night and day.”
“From a radiologist’s perspective, the clarity, resolution, and image quality of digital mammography is far superior to screen-film technology,” he said. And when it came to choosing a vendor for the technology, Hologic stood apart from the rest. “Hologic was clearly superior in our mind,” he said.
Once the professionals at Raleigh Radiology knew they wanted to move toward digital technology to offer their patients the benefit of state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, prior experience and word-of-mouth brought Hologic into the practice’s field of view. “Working closely with a colleague who had experience with Hologic equipment made a strong influence on our choice,” Dr. Detweiler explained. “Around the same time, we gained a new partner who was relocating to the area from Dallas. She knew the company, and knew other doctors who were using Hologic units very successfully, and their positive experiences also contributed to our decision.”
Two Selenia Systems Do the Work of Four Screen-Film Systems
“The resolution and improved visualization that digital mammography provides is good for women with all densities of breast tissue,” Dr. Detweiler noted. “In my mind this technology is a significant upgrade over screen-film mammography."
"When patients ask me which technology is more effective, I tell them that as a radiologist I can see what the difference is, and I’m not going to tell them to take a step back and have another type of mammogram. It doesn’t make sense. The main message is for women to take screening mammography seriously whether screen-film or digital, but if given a choice, digital mammography is the way to go.”
Raleigh Radiology re-placed four screen-film systems with two Selenia digital mammography systems. Now the practice screens the same number of patients with fewer machines, while eliminating the need for duplicate scanning on questionable films. “There’s virtually zero callback of patients for certain issues,” said Dr. Detweiler. “Selenia digital mammography has virtually eliminated the need to rescan to compensate for issues that sometimes make it difficult to interpret images, such as artifacts or inadequate exposure.”
“We see about 80 patients a day in our digital office, and we’re very pleased that we can screen the same patient volume with fewer pieces of equipment,” he added. The practice has another office that is planning a conversion to digital screening in the autumn of 2006. “We thought digital was the right direction from the beginning, and we now know, conclusively, that we’ll continue on that road. Over time we hope to convert all of our other sites to digital,” he affirmed.
Spreading the Word About Faster, More Effective Screening
Dr. Detweiler emphasizes the impact of word-of-mouth referrals on Raleigh Radiology’s practice. “There are educated consumers out there who demand digital mammography, and we have certain practices that exclusively send patients to our digital office site knowing that’s the exam they will get there. So whether by word-of-mouth or through physician direction, we’ve had several practices that mandate their patients come to us for breast cancer screening.”
In Raleigh Radiology’s Blue Ridge office, doctors have the opportunity to actually demonstrate the striking differences in image quality. “I’ve pulled in patients and physicians who’ve come by our office to look at the difference, between screen-film and new digital results. They can look at the difference and visibly see how much more we’re seeing today than we did previously,” Detweiler said. “With digital mammography, patients get the best mammography exam available today. Radiologists get the best look at images, and those images will be there for comparison studies in the future.”
Dr. Detweiler believes that the practice’s decision to offer leading edge technology that provides the greatest probability for cancer detection, was the perfect move for the patients and professionals of Raleigh Radiology.