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Breast Tomosynthesis in Practice


Early breast tomosynthesis adopter Washington Radiology Associates increased cancer detection by one-third, decreased call-backs, and improved provider confidence.


At Washington Radiology Associates, staying on the leading edge of women’s imaging technology is a priority, so the group wanted to be an early adopter of 3-D breast tomosynthesis.

The six-location group in the Washington, DC area eventually replaced all 15 of their Hologic Selenia 2-D mammography machines with the Hologic Dimensions product, on which they could add the tomosynthesis software.

After a three month trial with two tomography upgrades, “our doctors were convinced this technology was beneficial for our patients,” said Patrick Waring, administrator for Washington Radiology Associates. Last June, the group completed the upgrade of 15 Dimensions 3-D tomography machines.

Washington Radiology Associates has chosen to charge customers a fee, since it’s not yet a reimbursable service. Tomosynthesis is offered to all patients - not just those with dense breasts, for example - and a large percentage of patients choose tomo, Waring said.

Radiologists at Washington Radiology Associates have increased their cancer detection rate by about a third, said Mark Klein, MD. Call-back rates have also diminished, depending on the radiologists, but likely on average about a third, too.

Equally important, Klein said, is the reduced anxiety for the radiologist that comes with reading a study with greater certainty. “Your confidence level goes way up,” he said. “When you’re finished reading a 3-D mammogram and you think it’s normal, you’re probably right. That’s a real advantage.”

In addition to the benefits to radiologists and patients, the addition of tomosynthesis is a differentiator for the practice. “If you’re not the first [to offer tomosynthesis], the guy down the street will be,” Waring said. “This is technology that will be here to stay.”


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