LAS VEGAS -- It's easy to take computers for granted. However, when it comes to medicine, computers are helping save lives.
Dr. Steve Zwerdlinger looks at thousands of mammograms a year. Now, new software enables him to see what he might not have noticed. It's like having a second set of eyes, working independently and objectively.
"With Computer Aided Diagnosis, we're able to detect a mass or calcifications. The computer will analyze it, in addition to you analyzing it and then render its opinion whether they think it's benign or malignant," said Dr. Zwerdlinger.
He says the computer aided diagnosis gives the radiologist an added confidence in his own determination and it makes him more productive, something computers do in all lines of work. The software has an added benefit for patients.
"Well what the studies and experience have shown is that the Computer Aided Diagnosis will decrease the false positive rate and will then decrease the number of biopsies or other imaging that may be required."
That can spare the patient a second mammogram, an ultrasound, a painful biopsy or an expensive MRI. Dr. Zwerdlinger also explained a phenomenon called "satisfaction of search" when the radiologist finds an abnormality and stops looking for others. The CAD program will tap him on the shoulder, metaphorically.
"You never know what you don't see. But the computer will draw your eyes to certain things you may have overlooked or you may not detect. The computer would evaluate for you." said Dr. Zwerdlinger.