BreastScreen Aotearoa now fully digital

BreastScreen Aotearoa digital mobile screening unit
Digital mammography provides a number of benefits.
BreastScreen Aotearoa (BSA), New Zealand’s free national breast screening programme for women aged between 45 and 69, is now fully digital.

Digital mammography uses digital receptors and computers instead of x-ray film to examine the breast for cancer. The images are recorded directly into a computer. They can then be viewed on a screen and specific areas enlarged or highlighted. The images can also be easily transmitted electronically from one location to another.

BSA Clinical Leader Dr Marli Gregory says the total digitalisation of the service is a significant milestone and provides a number of benefits that make the service more efficient.

“Digital images can be checked immediately, unlike film which must be processed. This is really important for those women who have their mammograms in a mobile unit - around 30 percent of women in some DHB regions. It means they have a much lower chance of being recalled for technical reasons, and perhaps have to travel long distances for repeat imaging because the mobile unit has moved on to another town."

“Digital screening delivers lower doses of radiation which is safer, and better quality images are obtained for women aged 45-49 and those with dense or difficult breast tissue.”

Dr Gregory says a secure, centralised picture archive and communications system (PACS) has also been established to complement the digital upgrade.

“This new centralised system means images can be sent to radiologists across the country to be read, allowing the radiology workload to be better managed.”

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Page last updated: 26 February 2014