Searching for Sharper Images in Breast Screenings

Marissa Murtaugh
Published: Monday, Jun 13, 2011
LumaGEM%u2122 Molecular Breast Imaging
This photo depicts the LumaGEM™ Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) System in use.
Breast imaging technology has evolved in recent years, and although the mammogram remains the gold standard for screening, researchers are excited about the possibilities of molecular breast imaging (MBI), aimed primarily at women with harderto- analyze dense or fatty tissues.

A research team at the Mayo Clinic has developed a gamma-radiation system in which a patient is injected with a radioisotope (technetium 99m sestamibi), and then images are taken using cadmium zinc telluride (CZT) technology.

In a recent report in Radiology, the researchers said that the use of their MBI technique with mammography “significantly increased detection of node-negative breast cancer in dense breasts by 7.5 per 1000 women screened (95% confi dence interval [CI], 3.6–15.4).” At the same time, they noted that the gamma technology would have to reach equivalent performance levels with lower doses of radiation if it is to make an impact on clinical practice (2011:258:106-118).

The trial involved 936 asymptomatic patients >40 years old who had extremely dense breast tissue on previous mammograms and additional risk factors. In all, 11 participants had cancer: 1 was detected with mammography only, 7 with gamma imaging only, 2 with both combined, and 1 with neither method.

“The ratio of the number of patients with breast cancer per number of screening examinations with abnormal fi ndings was 3% (3 of 88) for mammography and 12% (9 of 73) for gamma imaging,” the investigators reported.

A new Mayo Clinic study that will compare mammography with low-dose MBI in 2400 women is underway, according to Gamma Medica Inc, the company bringing the MBI technology to market. In April, the Northridge, California, company said preliminary results from 440 women studied thus far indicate cancers were diagnosed in 6 patients, with MBI leading to detection in 5 patients, while none was detected through mammography.

The LumaGEM™ Molecular Breast Imaging (MBI) System has been cleared by the FDA.





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