Want CNET to notify you of price drops and the latest stories?

FDA OKs mammogram that halves radiation exposure

Swedish company Sectra's digital mammography system uses "photon counting" tech to reduce the radiation dose by half of what's found in other digital or film-based systems.

Elizabeth Armstrong Moore
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore is based in Portland, Oregon, and has written for Wired, The Christian Science Monitor, and public radio. Her semi-obscure hobbies include climbing, billiards, board games that take up a lot of space, and piano.
Elizabeth Armstrong Moore

After being available for several years in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Europe, Swedish firm Sectra's digital mammography system has now been approved by the FDA for use in the U.S. (It was also approved for use in Canada in March and in Russia in April.)

The system, called MicroDose, uses technology called photon counting that results in two key changes over traditional mammograms: higher-resolution images at half the radiation exposure.

"Until now, digital mammography systems in the U.S. have managed to reduce the radiation dose slightly below those of film-based systems," Dr. Jesper Soderqvist, president of Sectra's mammography operations, said in a news release. "Ongoing research shows great promise for further improvements in breast cancer detection with our unique photon-counting technology."

Traditional mammography modalities require a higher dose of radiation to ensure image quality, but MicroDose detects X-ray photons individually via a multi-slit scanning technology that eliminates scattered radiation and reduces the noise level in the resulting image.

At 25 megapixels, the images achieve as much as four times the resolution in other systems. This allows not only for detection of early and subtle changes that occur in malignant cells but also for reduced risk in having annual mammograms.

The company quotes a radiologist in Geneva, Switzerland, as saying: "How can I not choose the mammography system that exposes my patients to the least radiation dose when the image quality is superior?"