Editor's Note: P Is for Planning

Before anything else, preparation is the key to success. Those words of Alexander Graham Bell coupled with another famous quote from him—Great discoveries and improvements invariably involve the co-operation of many minds—are key to purchasing and integrating state-of-the-art breast imaging technologies. That’s the focus of our special section this month.

The advantages of digital mammography are clear as the technology swiftly sees more FFDM installations (3,000+ to date) as well as CR mammography gains steam. In the future, breast MRI, positron emission mammography and digital tomosynthesis seek to further fine-tune breast cancer detection, offering more precision in preoperative staging and in characterizing masses and asymmetries as you’ll see in “Digital Mammography & Beyond” that starts on page 14.

But acquisition devices are but the starting point for building or refining an efficient digital breast imaging operation. Teamwork comes into play in integrating acquisition devices with the PACS, RIS, EMR and mammography reporting systems, as well as planning for networking, storage, archiving and viewing of digital mammography and breast MRI, ultrasound and CT exams. Storage and archiving considerations start with file sizes that vary from 35 to 200 MB per uncompressed four-image study. Sizes, and thus image resolution, vary by vendor. Among the bear-minimum decisions are whether to store raw data or compressed data. And consider, too, that the amount of data—and hopefully volume of studies—will only increase with future technologies such as digital tomosynthesis, just as it did when CT’s slices skyrocketed.

When you’re shopping for multimodality breast imaging workstations, look at all the workstations you can and do site visits—then bring the top contenders onsite to see how the workstations interface with your PACS and imaging systems. That’s just one of the tips from end-users in “Breast Imaging Workstations: Why Multimodality Is a Must.” Other considerations include workspace ergonomics, integration with CAD and remote reading.

Preparation, teamwork and communication—another strength of Mr. Bell’s—among the clinical, administrative and technical stakeholders in breast imaging make the technology sing.