Sigmascreening and Cambrios

The IDTechEx conference was held in Santa Clara, CA November 18 and 19, 2015, covering a wide range of topics including wearable devices and related technology such as sensors, printed electronics, and energy harvesting. This is one of the many items of interest from that conference.

About 150 million mammograms are performed on women (and men) worldwide each year. This is a potentially painful process, because the breast tissue must be flattened between two surfaces in order to get a good image for screening and diagnosis. Given the variety of sizes and densities of breast tissue, it is difficult to apply the correct pressure for a given patient. As a result, many people avoid the screenings altogether, which can delay diagnosis in the event of disease, which can result in more complex treatments than may not be as effective than they would have been if applied earlier.

Sigmascreening is a company in the Netherlands that has come up with a solution: the Sensitive Sigma Paddle. This is a compression plate that is covered by a clear, pressure-sensitive layer made from silver nanowires provided by Cambrios Technologies. This layer makes it possible for healthcare workers to accurately and repeatably measure the pressure applied to the breast tissue during a mammogram procedure. This assures that sufficient pressure is applied, but that no excess pressure is used. The result is reduced discomfort for the patients. The layer is invisible to both light X_Rays, and thus does not interfere with the normal operation of the mammogram equipment.

The device has already undergone two large clinical trials and has been well received by physicians, technicians, and patients. The device is a simple retrofit for most mammogram equipment, and has received CE approval in Europe. If this technology can result in more accurate mammograms and encourage more patients to undergo the procedure, many lives could be saved as a result.