For Women By Women
Touchstone Imaging Brings The First All-Female Designed Mammography Unit To Austin, TX
Study after study has shown that detecting breast cancer early can dramatically improve the chance of healing and survival1. “Mammography has been proven to reduce mortality by 20 percent2,” says Claire Goodliffe, marketing director for women’s health at GE Healthcare. But another, less promising set of statistics haunts Goodliffe: As many as 40 percent of women in Europe and 30 percent in the U.S. skip screening3. “They are afraid,” Goodliffe says. “They are afraid of the examination, they are afraid of the pain they may feel, and they are afraid of the results. They are afraid of getting cancer.”
That’s why Goodliffe and her colleagues at GE Healthcare’s campus in Buc, just outside of Paris, set out on a quest to design a mammography machine that wouldn’t scare people. “My design philosophy is to mix science with empathy,” says industrial designer Aurelie Boudier, who joined Goodliffe on the project. “We wanted to build a machine that changed the subjective perception of the mammogram and spoke to the woman to make her feel reassured.” Adds Goodliffe: “We wanted to humanize the examination.”
The project was unusual because like Goodliffe and Boudier, many of the engineers, designers and managers involved in building and manufacturing the machine were women. “We wanted to put the woman at the heart of the project,” says Laura Hernandez, global product manager for the Senographe Pristina, as the machine is called. “This is engineering by women for women.”
Patient-assisted compression is the newest comfort feature available on Senographe Pristina, a totally redesigned mammography system that has replaced traditional design with rounded edges and a thinner image detector to create a more pleasant experience for women as well as armrests that position women to relax rather than tense up during the compression and image acquisition process.
During the exam, women place their breasts on a platform the size of a laptop called the bucky, stretch out their arms and support themselves by holding onto handles located on the body of the machine. Older machines typically have angular, metallic buckies that can feel cold and painful. “My reaction [during an exam] is that I want to step back,” says Hernandez, echoing many of the patients the team surveyed.
The final design has a thin, black bucky with smooth round edges made from a carbon fiber composite. The material provides a warm surface “so women won’t move during the exam,” Hernandez says. “We have also designed a new remote control so women can compress their breast with the aid of a technician, a first in the industry.”
Boudier also replaced the handles with armrests and LED lights that encourage women to relax during the exam. “It’s almost spa-like,” Hernandez says.
The main pillar of the machine, which holds the X-ray source, features flowing, overlapping plastic folds meant to symbolize a shawl. Its concave shape allows patients to rest their head against it. “From the beginning, I kept in mind a woman who is feeling anxious and wraps a cover over her shoulders to feel safe,” Boudier says. “I wanted to express that feminine gesture and keep it a metaphor for our design approach.”
This amazing new technology is now available at our Touchstone Central Austin location. If you have ever been afraid of getting a screening mammogram or have given up on receiving a screening because previous exams were too uncomfortable, we would love to have you try out this new first of it’s kind experience designed especially for you. Call 512 454 9597 to schedule today.