London Trust goes live with new breast screening technology

By Kyle Hardy
03:36 PM

Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust Breast Screening Service Unit has become the first unit to go live with a new breast screening solution. The deployment is expected to make the breast screening service the first in the southwest peninsula region to go fully digital.

The new solution, developed by Fall Church, Va.-based IT provider CSC, has enabled the integration of technology from GE and Siemens to work with PACS (Picture Archiving Communication System), which was already in use at the trust. According to CSC officials, the investment to move from film to digital imaging for mammography was centered around the trust’s Mermaid center in Truro. The center has three static mammographic units, with the help of two mobile mammographic units, and annually provides breast screening services to 25,000 women aged between 50 to 70.

“We are very excited about the digital imaging we’re now using because it is far superior to older analog equipment," said Donna Christensen, director of the trust’s breast screening service. "It’s going to be a fantastic improvement. In particular, it’s going to be better at spotting early signs of breast cancer in dense glandular breast material. In these cases, we hope the new equipment will help us spot a third more cancers early on and offer women treatment at the earliest possible opportunity.”

The trust collaborated with CSC in order to allocate a package of digital mammography for processing and storage equipment from multiple vendors in its role as the LSP (local service provider) for PACS in the region. Trust officials said this new CSC solution will help to enable full integration between its PACS solution and the NBSS (National Breast Screening System). This will be part of a key deliverable set by the Department of Health (DoH) to enable all breast screening units across England to become digital by the end of 2010.

Although the screening equipment is based in Truro, the PACS suite links 11 healthcare centers in the region, offering healthcare professionals a single and more complete view of the patient throughout the initial screening, secondary screening and, if necessary, treatment stages.

“I believe the 700 healthcare professionals who have access to PACS – including ward sisters, GPs, radiographers and surgeons – will not only find the digital imaging quality better but also far more convenient to work with," said Alan Brimacombe, clinical imaging PACS manager at the trust. "It’s a huge leap forwards for healthcare professionals across the region to be able to share mammograms and other test images. Film would generally just sit in one place but now we can distribute a wide variety of imaging data around the region to where it is needed and, crucially, they can do this on one system with one log-on so they don’t have to jump between different software packages.”