Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Mammography Rooms

A medical equipment planner is a useful resource for knowing the right questions to ask clinicians about equipment in rooms. For architects designing mammography rooms the important first question to ask is: "Will the room also be used for needle biopsy?"

If the answer is yes, you will need to delve a bit deeper to know how to properly size the room. Here is an overview of the 3 variations in mammography room equipment.

The basic diagnostic mammography x-ray unit is a "stand-up" unit, meaning the patient will stand in front of the x-ray unit for the exam. This is the common method of cancer screening for the breasts. If a lump or mass is detected, a biopsy will be taken to determine the type of mass. In the event a biopsy is required, a stereotactic biopsy unit my be used. This allows a needle biopsy to be taken so a lab can test the tissue sample. The needle biopsy is a less invasive process than a surgical biopsy.

There are 2 types of stereotactic biopsy units. The first, is an accessory to the basic mammography X-ray unit. It may be used with the patient in either an upright or prone position. If used in the prone position, it will require additional space for the stretcher to be positioned.

The second type utilizes a special procedure table with a cut-out for the breast. This device requires more space to accommodate the equipment.


For illustration here are some photos for each type:

Diagnostic Mammography X-ray Unit:

Example #1


Example #2

Diagnostic Mammography X-ray Unit with stereotactic biopsy option:

Example #1: Prone


Example #2: Upright

Dedicated Stereotactic biopsy Unit:


The women's health arena continues to evolve, with many new options for breast cancer screening. Be sure to keep open communication with your medical equipment planning consultant to stay abreast of these changes. If you have specific questions or comments, please post them to this blog.

UPDATE MAY 30, 2008: An excellent point was raised in the following comment:

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Another important consideration when designing Mammography rooms (or suites) is new digital machines throughput capacity. Digital units are so fast that an area previously designed for analog equipment can now handle twice the number of patients or more. Increased throughput requires re-thinking of reception, interview rooms, waiting, sub-waiting (gowned), dressing rooms and other support spaces. This is due to the fact that exam time slots can now be shorter (two patients every 15 minutes!) and volume is higher. When programming a new facility this is resolved up front. But when upgrading equipment in an existing space, careful consideration should be given to the department as a whole. In hybrid departments (where analog and digital machines are in use) the workload will shift to the digital room (s) creating areas of high and low utilization.

Carlos L. Amato, AIA, ACHA Director of Healthcare Planning, RBB Architects Inc

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Mr. Amato offers an excellent point about the impact of technology on departmental throughput. While technology promises "better and faster", the human component of how these faster turn rates are handled in terms of patient queuing and consultation is an important consideration. Thank you for your insight!

1 comment:

Carlos L. Amato said...

Another important consideration when designing Mammography rooms (or suites) is new digital machines throughput capacity. Digital units are so fast that an area previously designed for analog equipment can now handle twice the number of patients or more. Increased throughput requires re-thinking of reception, interview rooms, waiting, sub-waiting (gowned), dressing rooms and other support spaces. This is due to the fact that exam time slots can now be shorter (two patients every 15 minutes!) and volume is higher. When programming a new facility this is resolved up front. But when upgrading equipment in an existing space, careful consideration should be given to the department as a whole. In hybrid departments (where analog and digital machines are in use) the workload will shift to the digital room (s) creating areas of high and low utilization.

Carlos L. Amato, AIA, ACHA Director of Healthcare Planning, RBB Architects Inc