Enhanced breast cancer screening gear introduced at Northland clinic

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An imaging clinic in Kansas City's Northland has rare technology at its fingertips -- the kind that could help cancer survival rates soar to even greater heights.

When the patient is comfortable, oncologists can serve them well.

At Imaging for Women, an mammography cancer in Kansas City North, the Pristina Dueta is now in use. Managers at that clinic, which sits on N.W. Englewood Road, say theirs is only the second U.S. facility to use this enhanced breast imaging system that offers enhanced scans while allowing the patient to manage their own comfort during the examination.

"I'm going to put you right here by your side," an imaging tech said Wednesday while working with a patient using the Pristina Dueta.

Breast scans, like that one, take place as they normally would. However, the mammography paddle is lowered into place at the speed and compression that pleases the patient, who controls that apparatus using a remote control.

"It's designed for a woman by women," the tech said to her patient.

The Pristina Dueta is made by General Electric, which, according to Imaging for Women's operators, has sold the system to only one other facility based in Boston. The remote control, as well as the Pristina Dueta's soft lighting and smooth edges, are meant to make patients feel less anxious during these exams, which can be stressful.

Images generated by the Pristina Dueta are three-dimensional and precise enough to be separated into tiny, visual slices, which allow doctors to detect small cancerous cells before they grow.

"She, the patient, is going to be able to slowly control the compression," Troy Voeltz said Wednesday.

Voeltz, a radiologist and breast imaging specialist with Imaging for Women, said the patient's comfort level is of high importance. He said the more comfortable a patient is, the more compression they're likely to apply during the scan, and deep compression translates into detailed images.

Voeltz's staff members told FOX4 the machines cost $500,000 apiece. He said they're worth it.

"When patients are, one, in control of the amount they have, and, two, they don't have the anxiety associated with being over-compressed, it helps them have a better experience, and it gives us a better picture," Voeltz said.

Patients seem happy with what they're experiencing with the Pristina Dueta. Add Annie Murphy to that list. Murphy, who works in the clinic's business office, is also a patient who's used the Pristina Dueta for a breast exam.

Murphy told FOX4 she's had scares of her own, and she understands firsthand the fright of finding a lump during a self-exam.

"I think it's amazing," Murphy said. "The tech still positioned me like normal, but once that paddle kind of touched the skin, you're the boss. It's not as jarring. It's not as much of a shock when that compression paddle comes down and the force is being applied."

Voletz said he believes the Pristina Dueta will lead to fewer missed exams. He said too many patients skip their annual visit because it`s uncomfortable. Now, they`re in control.

Voeltz said there's no extra cost for customers to use it, and its often covered by a patient's health insurance.