Skip to content

Women's Health

Font Size
A
A
A

Computer-Assisted Second Readings


WebMD Feature

April 3, 2000 (Chantilly, Va.) -- Considered by some to be the stealth technology of women's health care, the computer-aided second reading is now regarded as a reliable way for doctors to look for breast abnormalities that the naked eye may have missed.

The process converts a mammographic image into a digital signal that is analyzed by a high-speed computer. The computer then displays the image on a video screen, with markers pointing to areas the radiologist should check closely.

Recommended Related to Women

"I Hate Asking for Help"

By Cynthia HansonIt's the four-letter word no woman likes to utter. How to ask for what you need. It wasn’t until Kathleen Hornstein realized that she couldn’t move her legs that she finally broke down and asked for help. A 34-year-old Pilates instructor and mom of two, Hornstein was pregnant with twins, and despite being overextended and overtired, she had barely slowed down and prided herself on being able to handle anything that came her way. Then, during her second trimester, as she sat...

Read the "I Hate Asking for Help" article > >

"The computer can be programmed to look at data and pick up possible lesions,'' said Phan Huynh, M.D., a breast imaging specialist at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. "It looks at the size and shape of masses. It is really for detection, not diagnosis. But a computer is not perfect either. It may pick up some stuff that may not be a concern.''

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved one such device for use in reviewing mammograms, the M1000 ImageChecker, manufactured by R2 Technology, Inc., of Los Altos, Calif.

The FDA said its studies of the ImageChecker showed use of the device would improve a radiologist's detection rate from approximately 80 out of 100 cancers to almost 88 out of 100. The FDA's approval, announced in June 1998, was based on data from clinical studies in which more than 40,000 mammograms were reviewed.

The technology is a precursor to digital mammography, which uses a computer to capture x-ray images of the breast. The FDA, in late January approved GE Medical Inc.'s Senographe 2000D digital mammography system, but cautioned that it is no more effective than current mammography techniques.

The computerized images do have some potential advantages over the film mammograms: They can be stored electronically so films aren't lost, adjusted for under- or overexposure without the need for a repeat X-ray, and sent electronically to specialists worldwide for consultation.

"Because the pictures are in a computer, the radiologist can manipulate the image,'' said Luz Venta, M.D., Director of Breast Imaging at the Lynn Sage Comprehensive Breast Center at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. "In the past, when we had an area we wanted to look at more closely, the woman would have to come back and take another X-ray. We now hope that fewer women will have to come back for additional views. It will save some anxiety.''

Michael D. Towle writes regularly for WebMD on health and legal issues.

Today on WebMD

hands on abdomen
Test your knowledge.
womans hand on abdomen
Are you ready for baby?
 
birth control pills
Learn about your options.
insomnia
Is it menopause or something else?
 
woman in bathtub
Slideshow
Doctor discussing screening with patient
VIDEO
 
bp app on smartwatch and phone
Slideshow
ovaries in body model
Article
 

Send yourself a link to download the app.

Loading ...

Please wait...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Blood pressure check
Slideshow
hot water bottle on stomach
Quiz
 
question
Assessment
Attractive young woman standing in front of mirror
Quiz