New project brings mammography to remote Native American reservations
A new project was recently undertaken to bring mobile digital mammography services to remote American Indian tribe reservations throughout the nation where women previously had limited access to screening. The facility was able to transmit the images via satellite to a radiologist to be read. The project was discussed today at RSNA in Chicago.

"This project demonstrates efforts by the Sioux tribes and the Indian Health Service (IHS) to overcome obstacles to screening in remote areas and provide better health care to these women," said Marilyn A. Roubidoux, MD, professor of radiology at University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.

For the study, a mobile unit of the Aberdeen Area Indian Health Service included equipment that performed 515 mammography examinations on 506 patients in rural areas. The images were then sent off to a workstation at the University of Michigan breast imaging division and were interpreted and reported in real time.

Of their initial mammograms 58 patients were called back and of these, 72 percent were able to receive follow-up exams at the mobile unit on the same day or within one to two days after their initial screening. Average turnaround time from acquisition of the image to reporting of the results was 50 minutes, though in some optimal cases the time was just 30 minutes. Image transmission time averaged five minutes per file, and images were not compromised by satellite transmission, according to a release of the results.

"The results demonstrate that digital mammograms can be transmitted rapidly by satellite without loss of image quality and can be interpreted remotely," Roubidoux said. "Furthermore, patients reported high satisfaction with the professional and sensitive care they received."