A new medical device called the MammoPad is now being used by The University of Tennessee Medical Center’s Breast Center to reduce patient discomfort during mammograms.
“The Center has been using them since November,” Lisa Amortegui, supervisor and mammographer at the Breast Center, said.
A mammogram can be a painful experience for a woman, she said.
“Most women experience varying degrees of discomfort during the procedure,” Amortegui said.
The MammoPad, designed by Stanford University physician Gale Lebovic, is made of a soft radiolucent material that is invisible to X-rays. In 2001, the Food and Drug Administration approved the MammoPad, which has become more common in offices around the country.
“This is a foam pad cushion designed to take away the discomfort of a mammogram,” said Amortegui. During the procedure the breast is pressed both vertically and horizontally to obtain a clear view for a doctor to check for any potential cysts or tumors.
Yearly exams are recommended for women, especially those over the age of 40. Some women, Amortegui said, avoid the procedure because of the discomfort they experience.
By using the new device, the Breast Center is a pioneer in its field, Amortegui said.
“Unless another office has recently begun using the MammoPad we are the only Medical Center [in Knoxville] to use these pads,” said Amortegui. “There is no additional cost for the patient. And the pads are used for every breast exam.”
The response to the pads has been favorable, she said.
“Patients can tell a difference ... most people do like it,” Amortegui said.
Some sources such as the MammoPad Web site also recommend reducing caffeine consumption at least a week before the exam and taking an over-the-counter pain medication the day of the visit.
Yearly, 200,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 40,000 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society Web site. Early detection and treatment is the best way to prevent a growth from becoming life-threatening.