In a development that could boost access to mammography screening, a study has demonstrated that digital mammography images can be accurately transmitted over broadband Internet. It is possible to transmit full-field digital mammography images to another location for interpretation without compromising accuracy, security or the use of computer-aided detection software, according to a study that included 1,314 diagnostic screening mammograms..
The digital images were transmitted via Internet cable in a highly secure environment, including private networks and firewalls, to an interpreting workstation 110 miles away. Each image was transmitted in less than 45 seconds. The researchers determined that digital mammograms sent to the remote workstation were identical to the original images.
"The ability to transmit mammograms over long distances could significantly help to solve the crisis in access to screening mammography, as well as improve the accuracy of interpretation of the examinations," said Alan Melton, the study's lead author and an assistant clinical professor of radiology at New York Presbyterian Hospital - Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.
According to a report issued last year by the Institute of Medicine, women's access to breast cancer screening is limited due to a shortage of specialists in breast imaging and interpretation. Between 2000 and 2003, the number of mammography facilities operating in the U.S. dropped 8.5 percent from 9,400 to 8,600, causing women in some areas delays of up to five months for screening mammography services.
Melton said he envisions reconfiguring the way mammograms are interpreted by creating regional Centers of Excellence, where highly skilled radiologists would read digital mammograms transmitted from multiple centers.