Fletcher Allen Among First to Earn National Accreditation for Breast MRI

F O R  R E L E A S E:    Immediate (December 16, 2010)

C O N T A C T:            Michael Carrese
                                 Marketing and Communications
                                 802-847-0368
                                 Michael.Carrese@vtmednet.org

Fletcher Allen Among First to Earn National Accreditation for Breast MRI
Advanced Technology Improves Chances of Early Detection of Cancer

(Burlington, VT) — Fletcher Allen Health Care has been awarded one of the first accreditations for breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in the nation, a technology that can detect cancers not revealed by mammograms and ultrasound tests. The American Cancer Society recommends that women at high risk for developing breast cancer get an MRI test every year in addition to a mammogram.  Breast MRI is also used to detect the extent of disease in patients with a new cancer diagnosis. 
 
The gold seal accreditation from the American College of Radiology (ACR) certifies that providers are delivering the highest levels of image quality and patient safety. The ACR had previously designated Fletcher Allen as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence.

Fletcher Allen uses a 3 Tesla scanner with a more powerful magnetic field than those generated by commonly used 1.5 Tesla scanners. The stronger magnet can produce a better quality image in a shorter period of time. (Note: MRI does not use ionizing radiation so there is no radiation risk for patients).

“We are very proud to be among the first facilities to be accredited and among those few facilities in the country accredited for a higher field strength magnet,” said Dr. Sally Herschorn, Director of the Breast Imaging Division at Fletcher Allen. “This confirmation of the quality of our program is very important to patients because of the real difference breast MRI makes in early detection, which is critical to successful treatment,” she continued.

A key factor in the ACR decision was the proven skill of Fletcher Allen’s physicians in reading MRI images correctly.  “This exam is very difficult to intepret, so it is essential to have experienced staff and quality-assurance follow-up procedures as we do in our Breast Imaging Center,” explained Herschorn. “With this certification we can assure women in our region that the diagnoses we make from these images are as accurate as possible.”

The accreditation is awarded after a peer-review evaluation by physicians and medical physicists who are experts in the field.  Image quality, personnel qualifications, adequacy of facility equipment, quality control procedures, and quality assurance programs are all factors in the review.

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NOTE: this accreditation comes on the heels of a new study showing that only 50% of American women over forty get an annual mammogram. It has been one year since controversial recommendations from a federal panel that women age 40 do not need to start getting an annual exam – a reversal of long-standing practice. The American Cancer Society and many physicians objected to these recommendations resulting in confusion among women about what to do. Here is a link to a blog Dr. Herschorn has written to help women sort out the conflicting advice.
http://fletcherallenblog.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/mammography-keep-abreast-and-get-the-facts/#more-612

About the American College of Radiology
The ACR is a national professional organization serving more than 34,000 diagnostic/interventional radiologists, radiation oncologists, nuclear medicine physicians, and medical physicists with programs focusing on the practice of medical imaging and radiation oncology and the delivery of comprehensive health care services.

About Fletcher Allen
Fletcher Allen Health Care, together with our partners at the University of Vermont College of Medicine and the College of Nursing and Health Sciences, is Vermont’s academic medical center.  Our mission is to improve the health of the people in the communities we serve by integrating patient care, education and research in a caring environment.  Fletcher Allen serves as a regional referral center -- providing advanced care to approximately one million people in Vermont and northern New York -- and as a community hospital for approximately 150,000 residents in Chittenden and Grand Isle counties.  With more than 30 patient care sites and 100 outreach clinics, programs and services throughout the region, Fletcher Allen is committed to being a national model for the delivery of high-quality academic health care for a rural region.  For more information about Fletcher Allen, visit our Web site at www.fletcherallen.org.