Traditional mammography machines — besides being uncomfortable — rely on ionizing radiation to image a patient's breasts. And as all we all know, radiation ironically increases the risk of cancer developing. So a company called Delphinus Medical Technologies has developed a safer alternative called the SoftVue that instead uses ultrasonic sound waves bouncing around inside a large water tank.
The risk of developing cancer from the procedure itself is all but eliminated, and the exam appears to be considerably more comfortable for the patient. Instead of a mechanism that's designed to compress the breast flat for better imaging, the patient lies face down on a table sitting atop a tank of warm water, and then places their breast into a sealed opening that's surrounded by a transducer sensor ring.
An ultrasonic signal is then blasted through the tank, and the echoed signals bouncing around and through the breast are captured. Delphinus claims that cancerous tissue has a distinct signature when it interacts with sound waves, which the SoftVue can detect and highlight, making it easier to spot.
The exam itself takes just two minutes per breast to complete, and thanks to a camera inside the tank, it's easy to precisely position the breast to ensure accurate imaging. In fact, the SoftVue machine apparently doesn't even required a skilled or experienced technician to operate, it's designed to be completely user-friendly.
Delphinus originally planned to market the SoftVue as a diagnostic tool that could be used for follow-ups to traditional mammograms. But the system has just been approved by the FDA, which means it can now be offered as a safer and more comfortable alternative to existing methods. [Delphinus Medical Technologies via Medgadget]