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New biopsy table aids technicians and patients

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center acquired a new breast biopsy machine in March

By , Columbian staff writer
Published: October 28, 2019, 6:05am
4 Photos
Mammography Technologist Aimee Lehartel, center, and Dr. Michael Morich explain how their new breast cancer biopsy machine works at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver. PeaceHealth purchased the machine in March, and Lehartel calls it "the newest, latest and greatest" technology available. (Photos by Zach Wilkinson/The Columbian)
Mammography Technologist Aimee Lehartel, center, and Dr. Michael Morich explain how their new breast cancer biopsy machine works at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver. PeaceHealth purchased the machine in March, and Lehartel calls it "the newest, latest and greatest" technology available. (Photos by Zach Wilkinson/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center has a new way to better detect cancer and serve its patients.

In March, PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center’s Kearney Breast Center acquired a new Hologic Affirm breast biopsy system. Dr. Michael Morich, a mammographer and the medical director of the Kearney Center, said the new machine has improved the staff’s ability to detect cancer through its 3D technology and 360-degree access to the breast.

Morich said the new biopsy table allows for a lateral approach, and that also means it’s easier to biopsy women who have less breast tissue.

Morich explained that a biopsy table is used after a woman gets a mammogram screening, and doctors detect abnormalities or microcalcifications that require further testing. A biopsy can confirm whether those are benign or malignant.

The Hologic Affirm is different than previous biopsy machines Kearney has had because it allows for prone biopsy, instead of having the patient sit. According to Hologic’s website, the biopsy machine also hides the biopsy needle from patients, in an effort to make the procedure more sensitive.

The breast biopsy machine also calculates all the safety margins for a procedure, and it acquires and displays imaging from the procedure almost immediately. The breast biopsies are 3D guided, and staff can scroll through 3D images until they find the best one to use. Once they have an image, they can click on a targeted area and line up the needle to biopsy that area.

Aimee Lehartel, a mammography technologist who works with the new machine, said it is intuitive and has a “fairly flat learning curve” if you’ve already done breast biopsies on more traditional machines.

Morich said the machine means a less invasive approach and better results for patients.

“We’re able to biopsy to many more patients than we were previously able to,” he said.

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