New stereoscopic system may reduce false positives in mammography
Researchers at Emory University Breast Clinic in Atlanta have reported using 3D technology to help detect more breast cancers with fewer false positives.

The new stereoscopic digital mammography system is very much like seeing a picture from the View-Master children’s toy or while wearing polarized 3D glasses, lead researcher David J. Getty, PhD, told RSNA News. “The image just leaps out at you,” he said.

In an RSNA 2007 presentation, “Improved Accuracy of Lesion Detection in Breast Cancer Screening with Stereoscopic Digital Mammography,” Getty discussed interim results of an ongoing clinical trial. He is a division scientist at BBN Technologies in Cambridge, Mass. BBN Technologies and Planar Systems have developed a stereoscopic system to help radiologists see the internal structure of the breast.

Stereoscopic digital mammography acquires two digital radiographs of the breast, separated by about 8 degrees, according to RSNA News. The mammographer’s visual system can then fuse the images at the workstation to view the breast in 3D.

In the study presented by Getty, researchers used a full-field digital mammography unit slightly customized to acquire images in pairs.

“Standard mammography is one of the most difficult radiographic exams to interpret,” Getty, who has been developing the project for 12 years, told RSNA News. “In a 2D image of the breast, subtle lesions may be masked by underlying or overlying normal tissue and can be missed. Normal tissue located at different depths can align, mimicking a lesion, leading to false-positive findings.”