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Grande Prairie

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Automated Breast Ultrasound (ABUS)

Shift Imaging is now offering automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) at its Grande Prairie location.  Nearly 40% of women have dense breast tissue and mammograms alone may not be enough to find breast cancer. Shift Imaging’s supplemental automated breast ultrasound (ABUS) exam helps increase breast cancer detection by up to 37.5% in women with dense breasts compared to mammography.

Unlike 2D or 3D mammography, which uses radiation, Shift Imaging’s Invenia ABUS 2.0 screening uses sound waves to create 3D pictures of the breast tissue. Invenia ABUS 2.0 screening along with your screening mammogram will help provide a more complete evaluation of your dense breast tissue.

What to expect the day of your exam

From the moment you lie down on the exam table, you’ll realize that Shift Imaging’s ABUS screening is completely unlike a mammogram. A layer of lotion is applied to your breast, and then a scanner is firmly positioned on your breast to acquire the images. The exam takes approximately 15 minutes and provides your doctor with clear 3D ultrasound images. The physician will review the ABUS screening images along with your mammogram.  Please see the video below to learn more about ABUS service and what to expect during your exam.

How to book your exam

All ABUS appointments require a require a referral from a physician or nurse practitioner.  The easiest way to book your ABUS appointment is to contact your referring physician or e-health provider (e.g., Telus MyCare) and request a “complete breast assessment” by printing a general requisition and reviewing it with your doctor.  Shift Imaging’s complete breast assessment includes both a screening (or diagnostic mammogram) and bilateral breast ultrasound.  These exams are covered by the Alberta Health Care Plan.

How do I get my results?

Shift Imaging is a partner of the Alberta Breast Cancer Screening Program (ABSCP) and Alberta Society of Radiologists (ASR).  You’ll receive a copy of your results in the mail with a QR code to access your images and report if you wish to do so.  In addition, Shift Imaging’s reports and images are sent to NetCare and the provincial repository allowing your referring doctor to review the case.

Patient information and preparation

There is no special preparation for this exam, however, we ask the following:

  • Please refrain from smoking prior to your exam
  • There is no need to fast prior to your breast ultrasound or mammography exams
  • Take all prescription medications as instructed
  • Your skin should be kept clean and free of body oils, moisturizers and powders
  • Your clothing should be lightweight, comfortable and suitable for easy access to the breasts
  • We can offer this exam on the same day as your screening mammogram in most cases
  • Please arrive at least 15 minutes in advance

Why Ultrasound and Mammography on the same day?

Breasts are made of fat and breast tissue. When there is more breast tissue than fat, breasts are considered to be dense. On a mammogram, dense tissue looks white. Since masses or lumps also appear white on a mammogram, a lump may be hidden by the dense breast tissue. Dense breast tissue is also linked with an increase in the risk of developing breast cancer.

Having dense breast tissue normal; it is a part of you, like having green eyes or brown hair. Dense breast tissue is common; 40% of women have dense breast tissue. Since mammography has limited visibility in women with dense breast tissue, screening dense breasts with ultrasound, in addition to mammography, may improve the likelihood of detecting cancer. All women should discuss personal risk factors, including breast density, with their physician.

Additional resources

Should I have an Invenia ABUS 2.0 screening exam?

Invenia ABUS 2.0 breast cancer screening is specifically developed to help doctors find cancers hidden in dense breast tissue, which may be missed by mammography. If you have dense breast tissue, like 40% of women, the addition of ABUS (Automated Breast Ultrasound) screening can increase the detection of cancers.

How the Invenia ABUS 2.0 exam is different

Unlike 2D or 3D mammography, which uses radiation, Invenia ABUS 2.0 screening uses sound waves to create 3D pictures of the breast tissue. Invenia ABUS 2.0 screening along with your screening mammogram will help provide a more complete evaluation of your dense breast tissue.

Breast tissue consists of fatty and fibroglandular tissue. Dense breast tissue is defined as having a higher percentage of fibroglandular tissue within your breasts. If more than 50% of your breast is made of fibroglandular tissue, then your breasts are classified as “dense.” The sensitivity of mammography is significantly diminished in women with dense breast tissue.  Additionally, women with dense breast tissue have a 4-6 times higher risk of developing breast cancer than women with minimal fibroglandular tissue in their breasts.

Automated Breast Exam

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Dense breasts and cancer detection

Looking for a snowball in a snowstorm?

You may have heard the statement that looking for cancer in dense breast tissue is like looking for a snowball in a snowstorm. This is a descriptive way of explaining why dense breast tissue can potentially mask breast cancers. On an X-ray mammogram, both dense breast tissue and cancers show up as white. Therefore, with mammography, a cancer can easily hide in a background of dense breast tissue since they both appear white. Alternatively, in fatty tissue, which is gray, a white mass (cancer) can be readily identified.

My breasts don’t feel dense so I must not have dense breast tissue, right?

Breast density cannot be determined by palpation or by the appearance of the breasts – it can only be determined by evaluating a mammogram. Your radiologist performs your breast density assessment at the time your mammogram is reviewed.

Isn’t dense breast tissue only a problem for young women?

Generally speaking, it is true that younger women usually have denser breast tissue and most women will have fatty replacement of dense glandular breast tissue as they age. However, that being said, 74% of women in their 40s, 57% of women in their 50s, 44% of women in their 60s and 36% of women in their 70s have dense breast tissue.

Does this mean that something is wrong with me?

No, having dense breast tissue is not an abnormal condition. It is a feature of your body. Over 40% of women in the United States have dense breast tissue.

How can I stop having dense breast tissue?

Dense breast tissue is a physical attribute like other features of your body. It is not something that you can actively try to change or improve. The best thing to do is to become informed, know your personal risk factors and participate in regular breast screening.

Does this mean that I no longer need a mammogram?

Mammography is still the gold standard. Supplemental imaging is meant to complement mammography, not replace it. If your doctor recommends a breast ultrasound exam for screening, it should not be performed in isolation.


What is Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a non-invasive and efficient way to look inside the body at organs and soft tissue. There is no exposure to ionizing radiation as there is with X-ray exams. Instead, ultrasound uses high frequency sound waves to create detailed images of the area being examined. Sound waves are sent into the body through a hand-held device called a transducer which is pressed against and moved over the skin. The ‘echoes’ that bounce back are then displayed as an image in real time on the ultrasound monitor.

How is ultrasound used?

Most people associate ultrasound with prenatal exams to view developing fetuses. But ultrasound has many applications. It can be used to help make a diagnosis, monitor healing and guide medical procedures. Advances in ultrasound technology continue to expand its capabilities.

Why Breast Ultrasound?

Ultrasound is a key technology to watch in the wake of the new US national breast density reporting legislation which will inform women if they have dense breasts after they have a mammogram. Ultrasound is affordable, widely available, continually improving and has the ability to detect cancers and other lesions in breasts when added to mammography for women with dense breasts. However, traditional hand-held ultrasound has inherent issues that do not make it well suited for screening. Shift Imaging uses GE Healthcare’s, PMA- approved InveniaTM ABUS 2.0 creates reproducible, wide field-of-view volumes in a time efficient manner, thus well-suited for a screening workflow. It is the only ultrasound device approved by the FDA (United States) for breast screening.

In terms of detection accuracy in women with dense breasts, an “ultrasound + mammography” screening protocol has been demonstrated to increase detection of cancer in the breast by 35.7 percent. The ease of use, comfort, and non-ionizing characteristics of ultrasound also make it an attractive option for breast screening. Moreover, automated technologies like those offered by Invenia ABUS 2.0 continue to improve breast care workflow.

Invenia ABUS 2.0 reduces the time and operator dependency as compared to conventional hand-held breast ultrasound through its use of a wide field-of-view transducer that automatically scans the breast, acquiring volumetric image datasets.

Some disadvantages of patient screening with hand-held ultrasound include the fact that hand-held ultrasound is not designed for a screening environment and has not been cleared or approved by FDA for screening use. While ideal for diagnostic use, handheld ultrasound is known for low reproducibility, requires a highly trained operator and is not automated for screening.

What is Automated Breast Ultrasound?
(Also referred to as whole breast ultrasound or automated whole breast ultrasound)

With 3D ultrasound volumes and ABUS software, radiologists can look through hundreds of breast tissue image “slices”, looking at layers of dense tissue to find breast cancers which may have been missed on a mammogram. This is different than routine ultrasound of the breasts since the images from ABUS allow physicians to review volumes of data which may result in the ability to detect more breast cancers.

What is the problem that InveniaTM ABUS 2.0 is helping to solve?

Over 40% of women in the United States have dense breast tissue1 which can mask the appearance of tumors and limit the performance of mammography. Having dense breasts is a normal condition. It means a breast is comprised of more than 50% tissue (as opposed to fat). As breast density increases, the accuracy of mammography decreases.

What makes Shift Imaging’s Invenia ABUS 2.0 a valuable screening tool?

Shift Imaging’s Invenia™ ABUS 2.0 system is the only FDA ultrasound device approved for breast cancer screening in the United States as an adjunct to mammography for asymptomatic women with dense breast tissue. Invenia ABUS 2.0 helps physicians differentiate tissue and view tumors more clearly. The Invenia ABUS 2.0 system is designed to help improve the consistency, reproducibility, and sensitivity of whole breast ultrasound, demonstrating a 35.7 percent improvement in cancer detection (sensitivity) in women with dense breasts without prior breast intervention. Using Invenia ABUS 2.0 can help physicians provide answers sooner regarding the presence or absence of breast cancer.

What is special about Invenia ABUS 2.0 technology?

Technology advancements: Using proprietary technology to automate the ultrasound imaging process, Shift Imaging’s ABUS system was created specifically for breast screening. Advanced algorithms automate the imaging process to help provide remarkable and consistent image quality and reproducibility from user to user.

Reading station – Developed specifically for the high-volume, breast cancer screening environment. The advanced 3D Invenia ABUS Viewer enables fast, accurate review and archiving of patient exams, optimizing the breast ultrasound screening workflow.

Reverse Curve Transducer – The Reverse-Curve transducer enhances both patient comfort and breast coverage during the exam. The 15 cm, wide field-of-view transducer automatically creates uniform compression across the entire breast for consistent, reproducible image quality independent of the operator.

How does Invenia ABUS 2.0 benefit the patient?

Ultrasound is a proven diagnostic tool in breast imaging. With its non-invasive, non-ionizing radiation, real-time and economical nature, ultrasound is an important screening modality as an adjunct to mammography. In some cases, this innovative system may also help reduce the need for invasive tests or provide an alternative to exams with X-Ray or CT that expose patients to radiation.

InveniaTM ABUS 2.0 has been proven to increase cancer detection by 35.7 percent in women with dense breasts and no prior breast interventions.

Invenia ABUS 2.0 exams are short and comfortable.

  • Quick, automated acquisition helps overcome operator dependence and long exam times associated with hand-held ultrasound or conventional ultrasound
  • Where hand-held ultrasound exams are typically scheduled in 45 minute increments, a bilateral, fullfield ABUS exam can be completed and sent for review in approximately 15-20 minutes.