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KDMC obtains state-of-the-art camera

The Dilon 6800 Gamma Camera, a breast-specific gamma imagingscanner that provides an increased detection power for breastexams, is now in operation at King’s Daughters Medical Center.

The hospital installed the more than $230,000 camera in earlyNovember, and has exclusive ownership rights to the technology inthe area for the next six months. No other Dilon 6800 exists inAlabama, Louisiana or Mississippi, and the nearest one in operationis located in Houston, KDMC officials said.

“It really provides a second level of diagnosis formammographies,” said KDMC Director of Radiology Dr. Jim Krichbaum.”It’s a breakthrough in the field, no question about it.”

Krichbaum pointed out that the Dilon camera is not a first linetool in breast cancer detection. It is used in conjunction with anormal mammography to examine possible inaccuracies or to moreclosely examine a suspicious spot detected by a screen mammogram.The Dilon also examines both breasts, as trouble spots may oftenoccur in the breast not under suspicion.

“The most common way to examine the breast is a mammography orX-ray picture,” Krichbaum said. “But because of the wide range ofbreast tissue density, tumors, cysts and other abnormalities can behidden by dense tissue, scar tissue or breast implants. This makesthe sensitivity of a mammography approximately 81 percent.

“In other words, one in five abnormalities may go undiscovered,even in the hands of the most skilled and experienced mammographersand radiologists,” he said.

Kirchbaum added that mammography has a “less-than-perfect”specificity, which means that determining the composition of adetected mass in the breast can be difficult – even when itappears.

If a suspicious spot in the breast is detected during amammogram, the Dilon camera is called into action. First, thesuspicious area detected in the mammography is injected withglucose that has been “tagged” with a radioactive tracer agentcalled technetium. The process is called “uptake.”

If the suspicious area is indeed a tumor, the glucose injectionwill make it clearly identifiable on the Dilon camera’s images.

“Tumors in the body absorb glucose faster than the surroundingtissue,” Krichbaum said. “As the tumor takes in the glucose, itshows up as a hot spot on the Dilon’s screen. Thus, it creates ademonstration of tissue function rather than just a picture ofanatomy. These functional images actually show physiologicactivity.”

The Dilon camera’s ability to create such an image stems fromits power to see through tissue that traditional mammographytechnology can not penetrate.

“That’s the big advantage,” Kirchbaum said. “It can see throughscar tissue, through more fibrous breasts and even throughimplants. If a two-millimeter calcification lump is hiding behind afive-millimeter piece of scar tissue, a regular mammography willnot see it.”

When the uptake is completed, the patient sits in a chair andthe Dilon’s receptor is moved into place immediately next to thebreast, a positioning ability that gives the camera part of itsstrength of detection.

KDMC’s Dilon 6800 is already helping women in the Brookhavenarea stay healthy. Krichbaum said the camera has been used in 20cases since its installation, including eight cases in one weekalone.