What is Scintimammography?

It is a well known fact that early detection of breast cancer (breast CA) has a great influence in the medical prognosis and the survival of the patient.  X-ray mammography is the most popular way of screening for breast cancer.  However, when the breast parenchyma or breast tissue is dense, the sensitivity of this screening modality is diminished.  In these instances, supplementary Ultrasonographic studies can be very helpful especially in identifying the presence of cysts or nodular masses.  Another procedure that could prove to be helpful is Scintimammography.

Scintimammography makes use of radiosotopes with short half lives, particularly technetium 99, which are injected into the blood stream and allowed to circulate in the body.  These isotopes tend to concentrate in areas with high metabolic activity and in areas with high blood supplies.  These areas of high isotope concentration are then detected by a special device known as the gamma camera.

Scintimammography is a good modality for detecting malignant lesions with high metabolic activities which tend to have higher concentrations of the radioisotopes used in the procedure.  It is also useful in assessing the patient's response to chemotherapy.  Other cases in which this procedure could be helpful are in patients with breast implants that prevent proper evaluation by X-Ray Mammography and those who have undergone breast surgery.  Occasionally, false negative results are encountered in benign fibroadenomas with high metabolic rates.

Although X-Ray mammography is still the frontline screening procedure of choice, it is good to know that this supplementary procedure is also available.