Breast-specific gamma imaging (BSGI) is, relatively speaking, the new kid on the block. But every day it seems to show its usefulness in yet another important way.

Researchers at The George Washington University Hospital, Washington, D.C., recently concluded a small, 12 patient study to measure how effective BSGI was in measuring the response of breast cancers to neoadjuvant chemotherapy. The results, echoing earlier studies, found that it is more accurate than other modalities in measuring response. BSGI was accurate within 5 mm when compared to post-operative pathology specimens, with a Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.97 and a Spearman correlation coefficient of 0.89. The study findings were presented at the recently concluded American Society of Breast Surgeons Annual Meeting in Las Vegas.

The study, led by Christine Teal, M.D., chief of breast surgery at the hospital, used a Dilon 6800 high-resolution, small field-of-view gamma camera to image the patients. Teal said that the 6800 was very easy to use and very comfortable for the patient. Because of the low radiation dose, the nurse who administered the imaging study could stay in the room with the patient, and the patient could sit comfortably in a chair. “It’s really wonderful for the patient,” said Teal in an interview with Tech Edge.

And it’s equally wonderful for surgeons, she added. “As a surgeon, I’m very visual, and it’s a very visual exam. The results are very obvious,” she said. “And they’re very obvious to the patient as well.” This makes surgical planning much easier.

During the study, the BSGI study was done the same day as the biopsy, so the results, unlike the more common MRI, were instantaneous. The patient was able to see the image as it was being captured, and for those who had undergone chemotherapy, it elicited a sense of hope and relief. “It’s wonderful for the chemo patient to see how the tumor has just melted away,” said Teal.

Teal plans to continue her research into the effectiveness of BSGI, a modality that she’s been using for the last decade, to measure a number of factors including its cost effectiveness—which she says is about a tenth as much as an MRI study. While Teal’s study adds to the growing literature on the effectiveness of BSGI, she says the biggest barrier to its overall acceptance is that it’s a “nuclear” test. “We have to get people over the nuclear fear,” she says, noting that the radiation dose is so low that she was able to continue imaging patients while she was pregnant with no ill-effects to her fetus or her own health.


(Source: Press Release and Interview with Dr. Teal)