Scientists at the Research & Education Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (REI) are developing a new breast imaging diagnostic tool which will afford clinicians greater opportunities for detecting early stage breast cancers with greater certainty and help patients avoid biopsy in some cases. This detection method identifies breast lesions utilizing a radiopharmaceutical diagnostic imaging technology known as Tc-99 Sestamibi (MIBI) scintimammography. The procedure is based on a radioactive isotope being injected into a vein in the arm. Once absorbed into the body, the isotope can be seen by a group of special detectors, called gamma cameras, "marking" certain biological processes to locate a tumor.
Iraj Khalkhali, MD, principal investigator at REI, believes that the number of false negative (i.e., missed tumors) readings could be reduced if the limitations of contemporary gamma cameras were overcome. In one of his studies, Dr. Khalkhali found that three out of four false negatives were in the middle part of the breast and out of range of close camera contact. Dr. Khalkhali is currently pursuing research on improving scintimammography image quality through the design and development of a compact, thin gamma camera that affords easier access to all nodes and potential breast lesion sites.
"Access to breast lesions in the internal quadrants is especially important because these tumors may disseminate toward the internal mammary chain even when no axillary node is invaded. Easy access to all nodes and potential breast lesion sites will improve image quality and can be expected to improve the diagnostic accuracy of scintimammography, " said Dr. Khalkhali. "Although mammography is currently the standard early diagnostic screening tool, scintimammography has proven to be a highly effective adjunct in identifying lesions missed by mammography – particularly in women with dense breast tissue, low suspicion lesions on mammograms, pre-menstrual women with lumps in their breasts and women with locally advanced breast cancer," he added.
Barbara Kerr | EurekAlert!
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