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Digital Vs. Screen-Film Mammography - Saving One Life at a Time

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What a world of difference it made for me training on digital mammography! I was dreading going to my new job and getting trained on the digital process. I am not an extremely tech savvy person. But I do consider myself pretty comfortable working with computers. As it turns out, my fears were unfounded. On the contrary, I enjoyed the whole experience of training on this advanced machine. I also found that patients having screening mammograms on digital machines are more comfortable and do less complaining. It took me but a day to figure out the pros and cons of the procedures and processing part of the digital machines. I wouldn't say it was a piece of cake for me, but at least it isn't scary anymore.

Digital mammography machines work on the same principles as conventional machines. They both work with X-rays. Patient positioning and compression is the same on both. Shorter exam times, exposure times, almost no repeats, and less radiation exposure are among the benefits that patients enjoy when they get mammograms on the digital machines. As far as the image accuracy is concerned digital mammography is comparable to conventional systems.

Digital machines are equipped with digital receptors that determine the amount of radiation exposure for different breast types as opposed to conventional machines that require a cassette with film placed inside the cassette holder. Exposure factors are automatically adjusted according to the density of the breast being exposed. Digital machines are connected to other computers that display the images on the technologists' workstation, and the radiologists' workstation. Patient information and prior mammography images are attached and sent to the concerning interpreting physician in order to compare with the current procedure. The results are then sent directly to the patient's physician. Whereas conventional screen/film systems require the patient to wait after the procedure in order for the technologist to process the films in the darkroom to make sure the techniques and positioning are okay, digital machines eliminate this extra step to save waiting time. (Radiologic Technology Magazine.)

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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