Study Published in European Journal of Radiology Demonstrates Mammography Quality and Patient Experience Could Be Standardized Using Pressure

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VolparaAnalytics from Volpara Solutions Used to Compare Force, Pressure, Volumetric Density and Mammographic Dose between US and Dutch Patient Populations

Now that software like VolparaAnalytics, which enables device-independent cross-comparisons of key mammographic metrics between patient populations, has become available, we may be able to better standardize mammographic compression."

A study published in European Journal of Radiology (EJR), compared mammographic compression between sites in the Netherlands and the United States and concludes that calculating and tracking compression pressure could help standardize mammography quality and patient experience. (DOI, December 30, 2014: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejrad.2014.12.012) The article “Mammographic compression – A need for mechanical standardization” used VolparaAnalytics from Volpara Solutions to compare average force, pressure, breast thickness, breast volume, volumetric breast density and average glandular dose between patient populations.

According to researchers, the lack of consistent guidelines regarding mammographic compression has led to wide variation in its technical execution. Breast compression is accomplished by means of a compression paddle, resulting in a certain contact area between the paddle and the breast, which can result in varying levels of discomfort or pain. On current mammography systems, the only mechanical parameter available in estimating the degree of compression is the physical entity of force (daN). Recently, researchers have suggested that pressure (kPa), resulting from a specific force divided by contact area on a breast, might be a more appropriate parameter for standardization. For example, while a large breast requires more force to compress and a small breast requires less force, research suggests that optimal compression pressure should be similar for all breast sizes.

This study compared the current compression practice in mammography between two sites in the Netherlands and one in the United States, and investigated whether the compression protocols could be improved by standardization of pressure (kPa) as an objective parameter. The Dutch dataset comprised of 37,518 screening mammographic images (from 9,188 women) obtained from the Dutch national breast cancer screening program. The U.S. dataset comprised 7,171 screening and diagnostic mammographic images (from 1,851 women).

All images were analyzed using VolparaAnalytics and VolparaDensity software, so that average force, pressure, breast thickness, breast volume, volumetric breast density and average glandular dose as a function of the size of the contact area between the breast and the paddle could be compared between populations. Large variation in compression was observed for the Dutch and U.S. datasets, with relative standard deviations of 19.6% and 41.9% for force and 43.1% and 50.6% for pressure, respectively. Significant differences (p<0.001) were observed for the mean forces and pressures used in both the Dutch and U.S. datasets (i.e. 13.8 daN versus 7.4 daN and 13.7 kPa versus 8.1 kPa, respectively). As a result of the lack of standardization, extreme pressures were observed in both datasets, resulting in an inability to predict the compression pressure for a given individual.

“Now that software like VolparaAnalytics, which enables device-independent cross-comparisons of key mammographic metrics between patient populations, has become available, we may be able to better standardize mammographic compression, which could decrease variation and improve reproducibility; minimize unnecessary pain; and reduce radiation dose and inadequate image quality. I expect that this will enable the industry to enhance quality control of mammographic compression procedures and help maintain exam quality and patient comfort,” said Gerard J. den Heeten, LRCB Dutch Reference Center for Screening, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

Cleared by the FDA, HealthCanada, the TGA and CE-marked, VolparaDensity is in use at breast imaging centers worldwide to help radiologists objectively assess density from both digital mammography and tomosynthesis images to help doctors evaluate who might benefit from additional screening. Highly correlated to breast MR assessments, VolparaDensity is a reliable tool that automatically generates an objective measurement of volumetric breast density correlated to the ACR (American College of Radiology) breast density categories. VolparaDensity is part of a suite of quantitative breast imaging tools built on the VolparaSolutions algorithm that allows for personalized measurements of density, patient dose, breast compression and other factors designed to help maintain accuracy and consistent quality in breast screening.

VolparaAnalytics is a powerful, centralized dashboard that produces configurable reports for management of quality assurance, resource utilization, and breast imaging workflow. In use supporting quality assurance at breast imaging centers around the globe, VolparaAnalytics monitors critical elements of the breast imaging process and generates key metrics to help breast imaging centers identify and address potential issues early. VolparaDose provides a standardized measurement of patient-specific dose with consistent results across systems from different manufacturers.

“We are proud that VolparaAnalytics is an integral component to this ground-breaking research into the standardization of mammographic compression force and pressure. This has tremendous opportunity to improve quality control in mammography as well as patient experience by eliminating technical variability,” said Ralph Highnam, Ph.D., CEO and chief scientist, Volpara Solutions.

About Volpara Solutions
Founded to enable radiologists to give women the most accurate information possible regarding their breast health, Volpara Solutions is the wholly owned sales and marketing arm of Matakina Technology Limited of New Zealand. Cleared by the FDA, HealthCanada, the TGA, and CE-marked, VolparaDensity provides an objectively volumetric measure of breast density from both digital mammography and tomosynthesis images. VolparaDensity is part of a suite of quantitative breast imaging tools built on the Volpara Solutions algorithm that allows for personalized measurements of density, patient dose, breast compression and other factors designed to help maintain accuracy and consistent quality in breast screening. For more information, visit http://www.volparasolutions.com

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Contacts:
Volpara Solutions                     
Chris K. Joseph                        
510/435-4031                        
chris.joseph(at)volparasolutions.com

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