(HealthDay News) — Dutch researchers have developed a device that may reduce the discomfort many women feel during a mammogram, while preserving the quality of the image.

Currently, mammographers can only estimate the pressure applied to the breasts, according to study researcher Woutjan Branderhorst, Ph.D., from the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam and a scientist at Sigmascreening, the company developing the device. Branderhorst is scheduled to present the results of the study on Sunday at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, held from Nov. 30 to Dec. 5 in Chicago.

Branderhorst and his team performed mammograms on more than 433 women undergoing routine mammograms. The researchers theorized that a protocol based on pressure, not force, would make the tests more comfortable. Using the new device, they did four compressions on each woman. Three were standardized to a specific force; one was standardized to a specific target pressure.

The mammogram targeted for pressure was rated as less painful, on average, by the women. The pressure-targeted mammogram didn’t reduce image quality, Branderhorst told HealthDay. Existing mammography machines could be upgraded with the device, Branderhorst said, and the device could be integrated into new machines. The extra costs would be minimal, he predicted.

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