Mammography services transformed across Northern Ireland with innovative digital technology

The Northern Ireland Breast Screening Programme deploys 14 mobile and static MAMMOMAT Inspiration Full Field Digital Mammography systems from Siemens Healthcare

The Northern Ireland Breast Screening Programme is future-proofing its breast imaging services with the help of 14 mobile and static MAMMOMAT Inspiration Full Field Digital Mammography systems from Siemens Healthcare.

The new digital technology replaces analogue systems and offers more-rapid imaging to help accommodate an increase in population.

With the growing rise in demand for screening, ways were sought to increase throughput as part of the Northern Ireland Breast Screening Programme to ensure all women in the region would receive the best possible service. The trust partnered with Siemens Healthcare through a tender process, resulting in the installation of a range of new digital mammography systems that help to optimise screening processes and reduce manual handling.

Siemens Healthcare installed a total of 14 units across Northern Ireland Health and Social Caret trusts. During the tender process, the trusts looked at a number of criteria including image quality, ease of use, dose measurement, value for money, and temperature range. The Siemens mammography systems ranked first place for their ability to perform in a range of conditions, their intuitive interface, and the ability to provide the lowest-achievable dose using Combined Applications to Reduce Exposure (CARE).

Siemens also worked in conjunction with health estates to ensure building works took patient comfort into account, helping to create a relaxing environment for women during screening. This included enhanced amenities, such as appropriately-sized waiting rooms and ambient lighting to improve the screening experience for women, who can sometimes find the process daunting. It is also anticipated the purpose-built facilities will encourage a higher screening uptake in the future.

Following the installations, Siemens Healthcare delivered a Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (DBT) reader training day to radiologists across the trusts to help enhance diagnostic confidence. DBT is designed to provide a higher-sensitivity and specificity to reduce the number of images taken in the primary mammogram, thus reducing dose and offering improved cancer detection. A further two courses are planned following the success of the training day.

Hilary Speers, breast imaging services manager at Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, said: “The digital systems have been embraced and welcomed by mammographers working at trusts across Northern Ireland, finding it both straight forward and satisfying to become competent with the digital technology. Positive feedback has also been received from women who have attended screening post digital implementation.”

Jim Seymour, project manager at Siemens Healthcare, added: “We have worked very closely with trusts to help upgrade mammography services, ensuring streamlined workflow and ultimately enabling a better experience for women. The MAMMOMAT systems are designed to set the optimal parameters dependent on breast density and thickness, ensuring even the smallest details can be detected at a low dose.”