Project Description

“Innovation makes breast examination less painful”

Sigmascreening – a spin-off company from the Academic Medical Centre in Amsterdam- developed within a 5-year period a new system that not only offers an improvement in quality, but also makes X-ray examination for breast cancer generally far less painful for women. The company recently received an important EU certification and is now involved in discussions with Dutch, French, German, English and Swiss hospitals. Up until now, 2000 women have undergone this kind of breast examination and it would appear that the new compression plate, ‘the Sensitive Sigma Paddle’, has achieved the desired effect. Sigmascreening would like to make the innovation available to as many women as possible as quickly as possible.

Fear of pain
Every year, approximately 150 million X-rays (mammograms) are made of the breast all around the world. In order to take a good X-ray photo the breast tissue has to be flattened by a so-called compression plate. Many women find this extremely painful and, for this reason, a considerable number of women do not come for the examination. (In a recent British survey, this was estimated at up to 20% worldwide). This leads to less early detection and medical treatment of tumours, causing the chances of survival to drop.

Better and simpler breast examination
Sigmascreening developed a new compression plate that can be attached to an existing mammography system. The system is innovative because it takes the size of the breast and the stiffness of the breast tissue into account when exerting pressure. For example, the amount of force necessary to obtain a good image is determined for each individual breast. The Sensitive Sigma Paddle features sensors and an X-ray friendly film, meaning that pressure exerted on the breast can be measured. When the laboratory technician lowers the Sensitive Sigma Paddle onto the breast, this is indicated by LED lights. The system ensures that not too much pressure is exerted, thus preventing unnecessary pain and making the procedure more predictable. This ‘new system’ makes it easier for the laboratory technician to ascertain when sufficient pressure has been exerted.

Holland Innovative helped SigmaScreening to demonstrate that this innovation meets the set requirements for reliability.