Industry-first patient-assisted compression device can help improve patient comfort and image quality
Breast cancer is the most common and the second deadliest type of cancer among women causing 40,000 deaths every year in the U.S.. Early detection can help save lives. But it only works if women adhere to recommended screening guidelines and radiologists are equipped with great technology to help detect cancer.
This year at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) conference in Chicago, GE Healthcare is showcasing its latest innovations in breast imaging.
A team of female engineers and designers used their own unique insights as patients to design a mammography system they would want to be scanned on. The team left all assumptions behind of what a mammogram should look like. Senographe Pristina™ focuses on providing a more comfortable patient experience to tackle one of the reasons women fear or avoid screening: pain.
“Senographe Pristina is different because in the past, the focus was primarily to improve image quality. But today we are seeing an additional focus on how can we make it better for our patients,” says Kathy Schilling, MD, Medical Director of the Christine E. Lynn Women’s Health & Wellness Institute at Boca Raton Regional Hospital, where they had the first installation of the system in the U.S.
With this new breast imaging technology, patients at Boca Raton have reported a noticeable difference in comfort during the exam, as well as fast exams, fewer retakes and an easier overall experience. “It just felt better,” said one Boca Raton patient.
Industry-first patient compression tool
“Pristina” features an option to use a first-in-industry patient-assisted compression remote control to enable the patient, with the help of a technologist, to set the compression that feels right for her.
The handheld wireless remote control, called Pristina Dueta, allows patients to adjust the compression force after breast positioning. The technologist then guides the patient while she operates the remote control to adjust compression until she reaches an adequate compression level.
“The design strives to minimize women’s perceived pain and discomfort by giving them an active role in the application of compression,” said Aurelie Boudier, Industrial Designer, GE Healthcare.
In a patient survey conducted with 160 patients in two sites in Europe, 4 out of 5 patients who received their mammogram on the Pristina coupled with Pristina Dueta found it improved the comfort of their exam.
Pristina has other design enhancements to improve exam comfort. The gentle, rounded corners of the image receptor or “bucky”, where the woman places her breasts, helps reduce discomfort and anxiety. It is also thinner so there’s less hard metal pushing into the patients’ ribs. The design also changes the patient’s stance.to Instead of requiring patients to grab conventional handgrips, which may cause tensing of pectoral muscles and therefore make it harder for the technologist to acquire clear images, patients can instead lean comfortably on armrests and relax their muscles to simplify positioning, compression and image acquisition.
The design and engineering teams collaborated with more than 1,000 radiologists, technologists and patients for feedback and insight during the development of this product.
“We wanted to design a system that would encourage women to not only make their appointments, but also keep them,” said Erin Brenner, who was the GE Healthcare program manager for Senographe Pristina. “That’s why we went to clinicians and patients to ask them what they wanted in a mammogram,”
Brenner got her first mammogram on the Pristina this year. “When I first tried the Pristina, it was different than any other exam I’ve had before,” she said. “It was fast, quiet and comfortable. My arms relaxed easily on the hand rests. And the thinner and rounder image detector naturally curved to my breast. This was the environment our team created. This was the experience we hoped for. As the program manager, I was proud. As a patient, I was relieved.”
Low dose, high image quality; a better reading
By improving patient comfort, technologists can focus on precise positioning, potentially making the exam easier and faster. Poor positioning is a leading cause of retakes, and the lack of proper positioning may decrease mammography sensitivity.
“If the patient is relaxed, the studies can be good – they can be readable to me,” says Dr. Velasquez. “I think it’s crucial to have equipment like this in order to provide service to the patient and images to us so we can do a better reading.”
“With Senographe Pristina, you’re able to get a lot better quality grade imaging for the patient and the doctor,” says Amanda Demerac, Technologist at Boca Raton. “This system definitely gives you greater confidence as a technologist.”
Pristina also includes the latest in 3D digital mammography technology, also known as digital breast tomosynthesis, which delivers superior diagnostic accuracy at the same low dose as a 2D mammography exam – and the lowest patient dose of all FDA-approved 3D mammography systems.
 IPSOS Patient Satisfaction Study sponsored by GE Healthcare, conducted with 160 patients who used patient assisted compression across 2 sites in Europe, February 2017. Data on file. Taplin SH, Rutter CM, Finder C, et al. Screening Mammography: Clinical Image Quality and the Risk of Interval Breast Cancer. AJR 2002; 178: 79
 GE screening protocol consists of 3D CC/MLO + V-Preview CC/MLO, V-Preview is the 2D synthesized image generated by GE Seno Iris mammography software from GE DBT images. FDA PMA P130020/S001http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfPMA/pma.cfm?id=P130020S001, Data on file. pp. 7893-7907.