Less pain, more scientific value

When Ard den Heeten, professor of Radiology teamed up with his AMC colleague Kees Grimbergen, professor of Medical Technology, a new
approach to mammography was born. It has been developed upon Grimbergen’s observation of a serious flaw in the current mammogram procedure: the establishment of a standard force of the so-called “paddle” compressing the breasts. “Applying the same force throughout means that the experience greatly varies among differently proportioned women”, says Grimbergen. “The smaller their breasts, the larger the exerted pressure. Not force, but pressure should be the relevant parameter here.” Den Heeten explains that the varying pressure among patients also implies that mammograms currently are not obtained under comparable, standard conditions. “This impedes comparative scientific research.”

The new Sensitive Sigma Paddle, developed by the two professors and co-workers, changes all that. It features capacitive sensors measuring the breast’s contact surface, so that a 75 mmHg compression pressure can be maintained for breasts of all sizes. Its “retrofit” design fits with all major mammography apparatus and to ensure brand independent, maximum availability, AMC spin-off company Sigmascreening was founded. Clinical studies in ten hospitals are now underway, the first device has been sold, and – if all goes well – within a few years the new minimal force
mammography will be widely available.