Pressure and breast thickness in mammography--an exploratory calibration study.

School of Health Sciences, University of Salford, Salford, UK.
The British journal of radiology (Impact Factor: 2.11). 01/2013; 86(1021):20120222. DOI: 10.1259/bjr.20120222
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Objective To perform a calibration study to provide data to help improve consistency in the pressure that is applied during mammography. Methods Automatic readouts of breast thickness accuracy vary between mammography machines; therefore, one machine was selected for calibration. 250 randomly selected patients were invited to participate; 235 agreed, and 940 compression data sets were recorded (breast thickness, breast density and pressure). Pressure (measured in decanewtons) was increased from 5 daN through 1-daN intervals until the practitioner felt that the pressure was appropriate for imaging; at each pressure increment, breast thickness was recorded. Results Graphs were generated and equations derived; second-order polynomial trend lines were applied using the method of least squares. No difference existed between breast densities, but a difference did exist between "small" (15×29 cm) and "medium/large" (18×24/24×30 cm) paddles. Accordingly, data were combined. Graphs show changes in thickness from 5-daN pressure for craniocaudal and mediolateral oblique views for the small and medium/large paddles combined. Graphs were colour coded into three segments indicating high, intermediate and low gradients [≤-2 (light grey); -1.99 to -1 (mid-grey); and ≥-0.99 (dark grey)]. We propose that 13 daN could be an appropriate termination pressure on this mammography machine. Conclusion Using patient compression data we have calibrated a mammography machine to determine its breast compression characteristics. This calibration data could be used to guide practice to minimise pressure variations between practitioners, thereby improving patient experience and reducing potential variation in image quality. Advances in knowledge For the first time, pressure-thickness graphs are now available to help guide mammographers in the application of pressure.

  • The British journal of radiology 05/2013; · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Purpose: In x-ray mammography, flattening of the breast improves image quality and reduces absorbed dose. Current mammographic compression guidelines are based on applying a standardized force to each breast. Because breast size is not taken into consideration, this approach leads to large variations in applied pressure (force applied per unit contact area). It is the authors' hypothesis that a pressure-controlled compression protocol, which takes contact area into account, (1) improves standardization across the population in terms of physiological conditions in the compressed breast (blood pressure), and (2) reduces discomfort and pain, particularly the number of severe pain complaints, (3) with limited effects on image quality and absorbed glandular dose (AGD).Methods: A prospective observational study including 291 craniocaudal (CC) and 299 mediolateral oblique (MLO) breast compressions in 196 women following the authors' hospital's standard compression protocol with 18 decanewton (daN) target force was performed. Breast thickness, applied force, area of contact between breast and compression paddle, and mean pressure were recorded during the entire compression. Pain scores before and after breast compressions were obtained using an 11-point numerical rating scale (NRS). Scores of 7 and higher were considered to indicate severe pain. The authors analyzed differences between the CC and MLO compressions, correlation coefficients (ρ) between compression parameters, and odds-ratios (OR) for all parameters as possible predictors for experiencing severe pain using multivariate logistic regression. The observed data were used in two models to estimate what breast thickness, required force, and pain score would be for pressure-controlled compression protocols with target pressures ranging from 4 to 28 kilopascal (kPa). For a selection of 79 mammograms having a 10% or more thickness difference with respect to the prior mammogram, the authors performed a retrospective observer study to assess whether such thickness differences have significant effects on image quality or AGD.Results: In a standard 18 daN force-controlled compression protocol, the authors observed an average pressure of 21.3 kPa ± 54% standard deviation for CC compressions and 14.2 kPa ± 32% for MLO compressions. Women with smaller breasts endured higher pressures and experienced more pain, as indicated by a significant negative correlation (ρ = -0.19, p < 0.01) between contact area and pain score. Multivariate regression showed that contact area is a strong and significant predictor for severe pain (ORNRS≥7 (CC)=0.10/dm(2), p < 0.05), as is the case with any pain already present before compression (ORNRS≥7 (CC)=1.61 per NRS-point, p < 0.05). Model estimations showed that mammographic breast compression with a standardized pressure of 10 kPa, corresponding with normal arterial blood pressure, may significantly reduce the number of severe pain complaints with an average increase in breast thickness of 9% for small breasts and 2% for large breasts. For an average 16.5% thickness difference in prior-current mammogram pairs, the authors found no differences in image quality and AGDConclusions: Model estimations and an observer study showed that pressure-controlled mammographic compression protocols may improve standardization and reduce discomfort with limited effects on image quality and AGD.
    Medical Physics 08/2013; 40(8):081901. · 3.01 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: X-ray mammography is the primary tool for early detection of breast cancer and for follow-up after breast conserving therapy (BCT). BCT-treated breasts are smaller, less elastic, and more sensitive to pain. Instead of the current force-controlled approach of applying the same force to each breast, pressure-controlled protocols aim to improve standardization in terms of physiology by taking breast contact area and inelasticity into account. The purpose of this study is to estimate the potential for pressure protocols to reduce discomfort and pain, particularly the number of severe pain complaints for BCT-treated breasts. A prospective observational study including 58 women having one BCT-treated breast and one untreated nonsymptomatic breast, following our hospital's 18 decanewton (daN) compression protocol was performed. Breast thickness, applied force, contact area, mean pressure, breast volume, and inelasticity (mean E-modulus) were statistically compared between the within-women breast pairs, and data were used as predictors for severe pain, i.e., scores 7 and higher on an 11-point Numerical Rating Scale. Curve-fitting models were used to estimate how pressure-controlled protocols affect breast thickness, compression force, and pain experience. BCT-treated breasts had on average 27% smaller contact areas, 30% lower elasticity, and 30% higher pain scores than untreated breasts (allp < 0.001). Contact area was the strongest predictor for severe pain (p < 0.01). Since BCT-treatment is associated with an average 0.36 dm(2) decrease in contact area, as well as increased pain sensitivity, BCT-breasts had on average 5.3 times higher odds for severe pain than untreated breasts. Model estimations for a pressure-controlled protocol with a 10 kPa target pressure, which is below normal arterial pressure, suggest an average 26% (range 10%-36%) reduction in pain score, and an average 77% (range 46%-95%) reduction of the odds for severe pain. The estimated increase in thickness is +6.4% for BCT breasts. After BCT, women have hardly any choice in avoiding an annual follow-up mammogram. Model estimations show that a 10 kPa pressure-controlled protocol has the potential to reduce pain and severe pain particularly for these women. The results highly motivate conducting further research in larger subject groups.
    Medical Physics 02/2014; 41(2):023501. · 3.01 Impact Factor