Reduced breast compression during DBT produces same results as standard compression

A new study in the American Journal of Roentgenology found that a reduction in breast compression during digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) will reduce pain for the patient and maintaining the integrity of the breast thickness and tissue coverage, while ensuring no clinically significant change in image quality.

“Because DBT reduces the phenomenon of tissue superposition, DBT could be performed with reduced breast compression if the changes in dose and image quality are not clinically significant,” the authors wrote.

The study, led by Greeshma A. Agasthya of the department of radiology and imaging sciences at Emory University looked to investigate the impact of decreasing breast compression during DBT on professed pain and image quality.

Phase one of the two-part study placed emphasis on distinguishing breast thickness, pain and tissue coverage during multiple stages of the compression in both craniocaudal (CC) and mediolateral oblique (MLO) views. Four levels of compression were applied to evaluate changes and no images were taken during phase one.

In phase two of the study, standard and reduced compression images were taken of one breast of each patient. Three imaging radiologists studied blurring artifacts and tissue coverage and compression force, breast thickness, relative tissue coverage, and perceived pain were recorded.

  • Average force reductions of 48 percent and 47 percent for the CC and MLO views, respectively, saw reduced perceived pain level.
  • Thickness of the compressed breast increased by 0.02 cm and 0.09 cm in CC and MLO views, respectively during phase one of research.
  • Thickness of the compressed breast increased by 0.38 cm in MLO with no change in tissue coverage or increase in motion blurring.

“This reduction in pain caused by reduced compression during DBT, and perhaps mammography, will decrease discomfort to patients during breast cancer screening, which may lead to better adherence and hence increased survival rates,” the authors wrote.