A Quality Breast Imaging Center Here for You

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Date: October 10, 2022
Categories: Health Focused, Cancer

Brandi T. Nicholson, MD, FSBI
Radiologist, Medical Director of Breast Imaging

The Breast Imaging Center at Augusta Health offers imaging to our patients to assist in breast cancer detection, image-guided procedures, and surgical planning. Our team of fellowship-trained breast radiologists and technologists specialize in breast imaging studies including mammography, ultrasound, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). We provide the best care for our patients from screening to breast surgery planning.

I joined Augusta Health approximately 2 years ago to lead the Breast Imaging Center. I completed my radiology residency and breast imaging fellowship at the University of Virginia in 2006. I then worked at UVa for over a decade training doctors on breast imaging. Following two years at the University of Iowa as the Breast Imaging Fellowship Director, I returned to Virginia to join the Augusta Health team. Bringing my expertise to Augusta Health and working alongside our amazing staff and my other radiologists has been a privilege. In the last two years, we have improved the level of care we bring to the women in our region.

Our screening sites have been updated to only 3-D (or “tomo” or tomosynthesis) mammogram units. Our standard of care is to perform 3-D imaging for both screening and diagnostic breast imaging. 3-D mammography allows for improved cancer detection and decreases callbacks from screening for benign findings compared to 2-D mammograms. Women can get their screening mammograms at our Breast Imaging Center at the main hospital or at our Outpatient Imaging Centers in Stuarts Draft and Staunton. For women who have dense breast tissue (determined on a screening mammogram and shared in our reports and patient result letters), we also offer screening breast ultrasounds at the main hospital. Screening ultrasound can increase cancer detection in women with extremely dense breast tissue. For women who are at high risk for breast cancer we also provide screening breast MRI. MRI requires an IV and contrast dye and is a test added to yearly screening mammograms in women who are more likely to develop breast cancer based on family history and/or genetics. Women who have been told they have dense breast tissue or feel they may be at high risk for breast cancer should talk to their doctors about the possible benefits of additional screening.

Our imaging teams work alongside wonderful Augusta Health breast surgeons, radiation oncologists, medical oncologists, geneticists, and pathologists to best serve our patients. Specifically for our breast surgeons, we collaborate to provide high-level imaging and problem-solving to assist in their delivery of patient-tailored surgery. Our 3-D mammography machines and new ultrasound units help us detect disease that can impact the surgical planning for our patients. We also use contrast-enhanced breast MRI in some women with cancer to prepare for upcoming treatments. For each patient, we use our imaging tools to determine which procedures are necessary to gather the information that may impact their care.

Dr. Tierney, a fellowship-trained breast surgeon, has advanced our delivery of oncoplastic surgery for the treatment of breast cancer at Augusta Health. To allow her to offer this advanced surgical treatment we need to make certain the appropriate tissue is removed. After completing the necessary imaging and biopsies, we can use several different techniques including non-wire localization devices to guide our surgeons to areas of interest in the breast. This improves their accuracy and the correct removal of abnormal tissue.

Our team is excited to serve your breast imaging needs. We hope to “see” you soon (or at least review your mammogram) for your routine screening. We recommend women 40 years of age and older and of normal risk for breast cancer have a screening mammogram yearly. Some women benefit from starting screening early and should speak to their doctor about their specific needs. In the New Year, we can’t wait to show off our new Breast Imaging Center adjacent to the main hospital where we will be located physically next to our breast surgery team and have new technology to share.