As a general surgeon at Tahoe Forest Hospital, I have the privilege of caring for women with surgical breast disease. Whether it is a non-cancerous finding, a precancerous collection of cells, or invasive cancer, I spend a good portion of my first appointment with a patient reviewing all of the imaging that she has had up until we meet, and planning the next course of action.
I am very excited for the new technology coming to Tahoe Forest Hospital for breast imaging. Sometime soon our radiologists will be able to perform tomosynthesis and stereotactic core needle biopsies at Briner Imaging.
Traditional mammograms are a two-dimensional look at the breast tissue. Multiple images are taken in different directions in order to view all the breast tissue. It is very good, but sometimes breast cancers can be hidden in the tissue as it is compressed, or compression can cause normal tissue to look abnormal. When that happens, women often get called back for additional imaging and this can create worry and fear. Tomosynthesis images the breast in three dimensions with less compression, making a test more comfortable and oftentimes more detailed. It is an emerging technology that will serve our community well.
Stereotactic biopsies are done when there is a finding on imaging that is concerning enough that we need to take a small piece of tissue for the pathologist to examine and make a diagnosis. While Tahoe Forest has been able to perform biopsies on many findings using ultrasound, we have not been able to biopsy the abnormalities that can not be seen using ultrasound. Instead, we have sent people out of our community to have these procedures. Soon, we will be able to perform the vast majority of biopsies needed at Tahoe Forest Hospital.
As a surgeon, one of the best parts of my job is the close collaboration that occurs between physicians and departments at Tahoe Forest Hospital. I feel as though my patients are served well by the constant communication between members of our patients’ team. Adding this new technology will increase our ability to take care of our patients within the system, and aid in making diagnoses quickly and accurately.
Ellen Cooper, MD, FACS practices general surgery at Tahoe Forest MultiSpecialty Clinics. She completed her residency at University of Washington Medical School, is Board Certified by the American Board of General Surgery, and was recently elected as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Cooper came to Truckee in 2011, where she enjoys spending time in the outdoors with her family, skiing and knitting.