Rebecca G. Stough, M.D., and Alan B. Hollingsworth, M.D., in front of the Aurora breast MRI system.
As clinical director of Breast MRI of Oklahoma LLC and radiologic director of Mercy Women’s Center, Rebecca G. Stough, M.D., knows breast cancer. She has seen it using a full range of imaging modalities and is a pioneer in the use of MRI for cancer evaluation and treatment planning as well as for screening of high-risk women. “MRI is far superior to any breast cancer imaging tool we have, when used appropriately,” she said. “The medical community is just beginning to mine its full potential.”
To deliver cutting edge care in the community, Mercy has relied on the Aurora Dedicated Breast MRI since 2003. Upgraded to 1.5T in 2004 with UltraRODEO high-resolution technology, the Aurora delivers industry-leading ultra-thin 1 mm slices for superior resolution and clarity.
Aurora Delivers Multiple Benefits
Stough notes that image enhancements were due in part to Aurora’s unique UltraRODEO technology that automatically provides specialized pulse sequences to suppress fat and normal ductal tissue, minimizing the hot spots that can complicate other MRI images. UltraRODEO also yields increased conspicuity of breast lesions, allowing for greater sensitivity and specificity of diagnosis. Moreover, the physician workstation with AuroraCAD fully automates such functions as 3-D reconstruction, subtractions, time activity curves, measurements, MIP and sophisticated manipulation of images, making interpretation faster and more accurate.
Mercy takes advantage of the Aurora MRI’s ability to simultaneously scan both breasts, as well as the chest wall and axillae, to create a high-quality bilateral image for easy breast comparison, while paring down scanning time. “With the new 1.5T magnet and UltraRODEO technique, the quality is so high,” she said, “diagnosis can almost be made based on the MIP alone.”
Significantly Increased Referrals
Contributing to Mercy economically as well as clinically, according to Dr. Stough, the Aurora has helped Mercy to achieve a status similar to a tertiary referral center for the area. Surgeons from all over the state now refer patients to Breast MRI of Oklahoma for MRI exams before surgery or to work up diagnostic problems. Patients with identified lesions are also being referred for stereotactic and ultrasound biopsies and then return to their surgeons for treatment.
“Insurance pays well for these studies, and they are being approved more frequently because more appropriate treatment saves the system money,” said Dr. Stough. “I think a breast MRI can make a breast center profitable.”
Another positive dividend of Mercy Women’s Center’s cutting-edge technology is that the hospital’s surgeons, as key players in the interdisciplinary team, have benefited by dramatically increased referrals. Breast cancer surgeries rose from 150 to 250 per year immediately after installation of digital mammography and have shot up to 350 since the installation of the Aurora. “There is no question that lives have been saved because our patients had an Aurora breast MRI.” To the talented, dedicated radiologist, that is the true bottom line.