No More Squishing, No More Pain, HCH’s Got A Digital Mammo Machine!

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by Janet Grella

Earlier this week, I went in for my annual mammogram at Highline Diagnostics on SW 160th.

Like most “women of a certain age” (over 40 according to the American Cancer Society), this is something we don’t look forward to.  The squishing, the pain and discomfort of the unnatural-like positions and finally the waiting in a cold room while the Mammography Techs check each film to make sure one was readable.  Of course we are always delighted when we learn after a week or so that we’ve got an “all clear” for another year. Further I can recall some time ago when I had a “suspicious” mammogram and had to go back for more x-rays.  Waiting for the next appointment was nerve wracking for my family and me.

The new Digital Mammography Machine from GE at Highline Diagnostics.

But what a difference a year makes – NO MORE FILMS! Late last year the Highline Cancer Center at Highline Medical Center (HMC) invested in new equipment – the Digital Mammography from GE Healthcare – for Highline Diagnostics.  According the GE’s website, “digital mammography represents a breakthrough in the advancement of women’s health care. Digitally enhanced breast images have outstanding clarity and contrast, leading to a quick diagnosis and quality patient care”.

At Highline Diagnostics I could tell that Jill, my Mammography Tech, and Kris, “Tech In Training” were really excited about this new mammography device they now get to work with. According to them, the amount of unnecessary recalls are reduced by more than 20%; patient anxiety is minimized and the exam time is reduced.

Further, I didn’t get squished like before, the equipment was built to make the digital imaging less uncomfortable, and the only standing around I did was to look at my ‘digital breasts’ on a computer monitor screen.

According to Janinne Walker, Community Outreach Manager of HMC, my images were sent directly to the radiologists, and they will be read twice by radiologists, and then further by ‘CAD” (a computer reader).  At the same time the radiologists receive my digital mammography, they were also made viewable by other HMC specialists through a system called PACs, which allows providers to access the images through a password protected system.

No, these aren't Janet's breasts.

But this story is not about me or my wonderful mammogram experience at Highline Diagnostics. It’s about all you women who put off your annual mammogram because it’s too painful, too awful, humiliating….whatever your excuse, in my opinion, you’ve run out of them.  As National Breast Awareness Month draws to a close, I want to remind you to make that mammogram appointment.

The American Cancer Society Guidelines for Screening Mammography are:

  • Annual breast examination by a physician or other health practitioner
  • Annual mammography beginning at age 40
  • Monthly breast self-examination

Janinne at HMC tells BTB that they recommend starting mammograms at 35 years old (although most guidelines say 40), and that women can obtain a mammogram at any younger age with a doctor’s referral.

You can make your appointment at (206) 248-8900 and visit Highline Diagnostics at 160th, 275 SW 160th Street in Burien (right behind Sylvester Middle School).

The good thing for me was that it didn’t take long to get an appointment, and there was no waiting once I got there.

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