The radiology department at Netcare Park Lane Hospital in Johannesburg is the first centre of its kind in South Africa to be awarded an international accreditation in breast magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) by the American College of Radiology (ACR).

The women’s imaging centre, which forms part of Park Lane Radiology department, was developed in recent years by Diagnostic Radiologists Dr Harry Said, Dr Peter Schoub, Dr Leora Sweidan and Dr Sandy Wise.

The centre works as part of an integrated, holistic team with other specialists at the hospital and Netcare Milpark’s Breast Care Centre of Excellence, offering comprehensive breast imaging services including MRI, MRI-guided biopsies, tomosynthesis mammography and ultrasound.

“Park Lane Radiology received the ACR gold seal of accreditation for three years following a recent review by ACR. Breast cancer patients are therefore assured of the highest levels of image quality and patient safety. We congratulate Park Lane Radiology and the medical professionals practising there, as the accreditation affirms their considerable expertise in this field,” said Managing Director at Netcare, Jacques du Plessis.

The ACR accreditation is awarded to facilities that meet its strict practice parameters and technical standards and after a peer-review evaluation by board-certified 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 assessed.

The findings are reported to the ACR Committee on Accreditation, which subsequently provides the practice with a comprehensive report that can be used for continuous practice improvement.

MRI of the breast offers valuable information to oncologists and other breast care specialists about a number of breast conditions that may not be obtained using other imaging technologies such as mammography or ultrasound.

“The MRI is therefore an important additional tool in the diagnosis and treatment of many patients, particularly those who are at high risk of breast cancer due to abnormal genetics and family history,” said du Plessis.

“Breast MRI is the most accurate imaging test available to detect breast cancer and is used to screen high risk patients, evaluate the extent of cancer, identify recurrent cancer and solve dilemmas presented by conventional imaging such as mammograms and ultrasounds,” added Dr Schoub.

“It may also be used with other imaging approaches such as mammography and breast ultrasound to monitor a patient’s breast health, as it often detects smaller abnormalities in the breast that is not possible with other technologies such as mammography, and greatly assists in guiding breast cancer treatment plans,” continued Dr Schoub.

According to Dr Schoub, MRI can be extremely useful in younger female patients who tend to have denser breast tissue. As it does not use radiation, it can be used to conduct more regular breast screenings safely in younger women who are at high risk for developing breast cancer.

“Most breast MRIs are done following discussions between the radiologist and breast surgeon or oncologist. It plays a particularly important role in assessing the cancer extent and presence of multiple cancers. The knowledge gained from this scan helps the surgeons and oncologists to plan the most appropriate treatment for breast cancer patients,” said Dr Schoub.

“Any facility performing breast MRIs must be capable of doing MRI guided biopsies – for example, if a small cancer is only visible on MRI, then it can only be sampled or biopsied by using MRI to localise the tumour.”

“We are exceptionally proud to have met the ACR’s stringent requirements and to be the first centre of this kind to be accredited in MRI by the ACR in South Africa,” concluded Dr Schoub.

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