Thursday, October 28, 2010

How digital technology can mean better care

By Michelle Jones (shown), and Betty Walker, Charge Technologists, Rouge Valley Health System Diagnostic Imaging

Some very exciting things are happening in our Diagnostic Imaging departments at both of our hospital campuses (Rouge Valley Centenary and Rouge Valley Ajax & Pickering). We are so proud to announce that our Breast Screening Clinics at both of our hospital campuses now feature state-of-the-art digital mammography machines. We’re quite privileged and very proud that we can feature this cutting edge technology. This digital equipment can cost up to four times more than film mammography, making it too expensive for many smaller clinics to have in their facilities.

Why is that important? Well, there are a number of different reasons why this so significant for us and all of our patients:

* This improved technology improves our chances of finding breast cancer. Digital imaging is better for women under the age of 50, or young women with denser breasts. Digital technology makes it easier for us to spot breast cancer in these women. Earlier detection and improved treatment can help to save more lives.

* Remember when you would take a photo using film, and wait for days for it to be developed, just to realize that the picture didn’t turn out properly? Well, just like your digital camera where you can quickly preview your photos, when a technologist takes an image of the breast, we’re able to see much sooner if we need to retake the image.

* Since there is no more need for film, the images are available much sooner – usually within seconds. The radiologist can quickly access the images, as there is no longer a need to process films. This means you, the patient, can get your test results much sooner, cutting down on wait times and that anxiety you experience while you wait.

* Since the images can be stored electronically, there’s no need to carry around huge bulky envelopes of film to take to your physician. The images can usually be sent electronically or saved to a CD that you can easily bring to your physician.

* At RVHS, many of our physicians are connected to our Picture Archiving and Communicating System (PACS), allowing digital images to be transferred to them within minutes. So if you had an appointment for a mammogram the same day as your appointment with your physician, it could be ready by the time you see your physician.

* Last but not least, digital imaging requires less radiation than film imaging. This means that we’re giving up to a 50 per cent reduction in dose.

Overall, this new technology means that we’re able to provide our patients with the highest standard of care, something that each staff member, physician and volunteer at RVHS is committed to.
For appointments in our breast imaging centres and all other diagnostic tests, contact our central booking line at 416-281-7299 or toll-free at 1-866-752-6989. Currently, most services require a referral from your family physician. We are currently in the processing of becoming a part of the Ontario Breast Screening Program (OBSP), which will allow patients over 50 to receive a mammogram without a requisition from their family physician.

Learn more about our Diagnostic Imaging program by visiting

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