Technology Timeline: Digital Breast Tomosynthesis

July 1, 2008 | Evaluations & Guidance


Digital breast tomosynthesis is a tomographic technology that has the potential to reduce the number of missed cancers and unnecessary recalls compared to mammography, the primary screening technology today. Whereas conventional tomography (which has been in use for a long time) is used to obtain only a single imaging slice through a patient, digital tomosynthesis allows the capture of multiple images during a single sweep. The images are then digitally reconstructed to form more detailed slices.

The developers of the technology believe that tomosynthesis has its greatest potential as a screening tool. But the costs associated with the technology will probably restrict it to a diagnostic role for the first few years as evidence accumulates to support its use.

This article should not be interpreted as providing a guarantee of the quality, safety, efficacy, or cost-effectiveness of this emerging technology. Much of the information we present is based on details provided by vendors and results presented by academics. Data from large-scale trials is not yet available.

Digital breast tomosynthesis is still an early-stage technology. Systems have been under development for many years and have been discussed in conferences and demonstrated at trade shows. Prototype systems have been tested in both research and clinical settings, but no systems are yet commercially available. However, some digital mammography systems are becoming available that can be...

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