Kemptville District Hospital Opens Digital Mammography Unit

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Kemptville District Hospital is now performing digital mammograms to detect very early breast cancer and conducting bone mineral density testing to screen for osteoporosis.

Kemptville District Hospital (KDH) is pleased to announce the opening of a new digital mammography unit. The addition of the mammography suite, along with a bone mineral density scanner, is demonstrative of KDH’s ongoing efforts to improve the quality of the patient experience, providing state-of-the-art tools for doctors and nurses.


Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Kemptville District Hospital Foundation, KDH was able to purchase the best mammography technology currently available. A digital unit was selected, as digital mammography images have better contrast than film-screen images and the technology images dense breast tissue, usually found in premenopausal women, much more clearly. These digital images are done at a lower radiation dose as well, compared to film-screen mammography. When this machine was tested by the government to ensure its performance within the strict standards, the tester commented that he was quite impressed with the quality of the images of his test phantom. Of the spots, specks and masses that vary in size in the phantom, he could see a speck group that usually doesn't show up.

Mammography imaging at KDH is performed by highly skilled Medical Radiation Technologists who have additional training, education and experience in mammography and are registered with the College of Medical Radiation Technologists of Ontario.

Cathy Watson is the Manager of Clinical Programs, including Diagnostic Imaging. She is very proud of the Diagnostic Imaging team’s commitment to patient care. Many of the hospital’s departments have been working together for almost a year to make the new mammography suite a reality; together they take pride in what they have accomplished.

One of the Mammography Technologists is Karen Finner, herself a cancer survivor. She has been working at KDH for 14 years. It was on her first day of work at the hospital that she discovered a lump in her breast. Three years of surgery, chemotherapy and drug treatment followed. Today she is a big proponent of mammograms for early detection. She urges women not to put off their mammograms, offering reassurance that although mammograms can be uncomfortable, KDH’s Medical Radiation Technologists endeavor to put patients at ease.

The mammograms performed at KDH are screening mammograms, for women without any symptoms. Screening mammograms are done to find very early breast cancer, which cannot yet be felt during a breast exam. Finding early breast cancer offers the best chance of survival. The Canadian Cancer Society recommends regular screening every two years for women over 50. Women aged 40 to 49 should talk to their doctor about the benefits and risks of mammography screening. Women over 70 should discuss with their doctor how often they should have a mammogram. Patients can ask their doctor for a referral to the mammography unit of their choice.

The digital images captured at KDH are transmitted to the Queensway Carleton Hospital (QCH) in Ottawa via a Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS). Radiologists at QCH then read the mammograms and send a report to the ordering doctor in approximately one week. For a small number of patients (fewer than 5%), more pictures will be required. Further imaging, such as spot view or breast ultrasound, will be performed at QCH. If more pictures are required, QCH will call the patient directly to set up an appointment, avoiding possible delays created by first contacting the family doctor, then having the family doctor contact the patient. For most patients, further pictures will rule out breast cancer.

Diagnostic Imaging Team Leader, Shelley Bottan, elaborates on the relationship with QCH: “Our partnership with the Diagnostic Imaging Department at the Queensway Carleton Hospital has made this possible. I believe that we will be providing the best patient service for the mammography program with the initial exam at KDH and follow-up being initiated from the QCH facility. By sharing the radiologists, PACS, and IT professionals, we get the benefit of the big city expertise in our small town hospital.”

The Canadian Cancer Society states that breast cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian women (excluding non-melanoma skin cancer). Breast cancer accounts for 28% of all new cancer cases in women, and 15% of all cancer deaths in women. One in nine women is expected to develop breast cancer during her lifetime and one in 29 will die of it. Encouragingly, breast cancer death rates have been declining in every age group since the mid 1980s.

There is a myth that only women with a family history of breast cancer are at risk. The Medical Radiation Technologists who perform mammography imaging at KDH emphasize that approximately 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of the disease. (Source:

The total cost of the new mammography suite at KDH was $750,000. The KDH Foundation has to date raised half of this amount; fundraising activities continue to raise the remaining funds.


Located within KDH’s new diagnostic imaging department is the hospital’s Bone Mineral Density (BMD) scanner. KDH has had the capacity to conduct this screening since 2007, and is accredited with the Canadian Association of Radiologists’ Bone Mineral Densitometry accreditation program.

A bone mineral density test measures how much calcium and other types of minerals are present in a section of a patient’s bone. Health care providers use this test, along with other risk factors, to predict the patient’s risk of bone fractures in the future and to detect osteoporosis, the thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density over time. Bone fracture risk is highest in people with osteoporosis; a broken bone may be a warning sign of osteoporosis, and in fact could be the first and only sign. For this reason osteoporosis is one of several diseases known as “silent killers”. Osteoporosis affects more than two million Canadians, both men and women, aged 50 and over. Osteoporosis increases with age but can affect younger people, and can be inherited. If a patient is diagnosed with osteoporosis, there is a variety of different medications that can be prescribed to prevent further thinning of the bone tissue.

The bone mineral densitometry machine at KDH produces a dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scan, using low-dose x-rays (about 1/10th the radiation dose of a chest x-ray). It takes a 'central' DEXA scan, measuring bone density in the lower spine or hip, the best test to predict the patient’s risk of fractures. The test results are given as a T score, a measuring system used to compare a patient’s BMD to an established standard – the higher the T score, the more dense the bone.

BMD testing or screening is recommended for women over the age of 65 and men over 70. BMD is also indicated for women under 65 and men aged 50 to 70 who have some of the following risk factors: bone fracture caused by normal activities, such as a fall from standing height or less; chronic rheumatoid arthritis, chronic kidney disease, or eating disorders; early menopause (either from natural causes or surgery); history of hormone treatment for prostate cancer or breast cancer; significant loss of height; smoking; family history of osteoporosis; use of corticosteroid medications (prednisone, methylprednisolone) every day for more than three months; and three or more drinks of alcohol per day. If a patient is already being treated for osteoporosis, BMD testing is used to monitor his or her response to treatment.

Shelley Bottan, KDH’s Diagnostic Imaging Team Leader, stresses the importance of being tested: “Detecting osteoporosis early is important and can help prevent fractures from occurring in the first place. Because bone loss can occur without you knowing, it is important to be tested early to determine your baseline and then if needed at regular intervals as your doctor recommends.”

For more information about osteoporosis, contact Osteoporosis Canada at or call toll free, 1.800.463.6842.

For more information about breast cancer, visit the Canadian Cancer Society at or

To book a mammogram or a bone mineral density scan at Kemptville District Hospital, call 613.258.6133, extension 400.


Kemptville District Hospital (KDH) is a fully accredited healthcare facility committed to building healthy communities. KDH offers a range of services based on advanced expertise, technologies and patient care practices. The emergency department is open around the clock and provides prompt medical attention. The use of new medical applications such as Tele-health and remote diagnostic imaging has made KDH a service leader in Eastern Ontario. Further, the surgical program at KDH provides timely access to high demand specialists, while the staff's dedication to patients has earned KDH a reputation for excellence in caring. Kemptville District Hospital consistently ranks among the top hospitals in Ontario for patient satisfaction.


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Jennifer Read
Kemptville District Hospital
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