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The breast care possible: Pacific Radiology

Breast health is important. At Canterbury Breastcare, women and men’s breast healthcare – from diagnosis to recovery – is taken care of under one very supportive roof by specialist health professionals.



Canterbury Breastcare is kitted out with state-of-the-art equipment to offer full-field digital mammography.
Home of national breast screening programme, Screen South, Breastcare also administers the Canterbury DHB’s diagnostic imaging, as well as providing a private service.

The multi-disciplinary team of radiologists, surgeons, oncologists, pathologists, breast nurse specialists and mammographers can diagnose and provide treatment options like surgery or on-going surveillance and clinical management.
Canterbury Breastcare has four very experienced surgeons who specialise in breast surgery and are available to diagnose and treat a wide range of breast diseases, including breast cancer. Six breast nurse specialists work closely with consultants to offer outstanding patient care, including information regarding treatments, practical advice, psychological support, coordinating care pathways and being a pivotal point of contact for patients and their whānau.

Two yearly mammograms are provided by Screen South free of charge, for women aged between 45- and 69-years-old.
If you have noticed any changes in your breasts see your GP before attending a screening mammogram.
When you turn 45-years-old you should have been invited through your GP to enrol in this programme. You can also enrol by calling 0800 270 200.
If you are younger than 45-years-old or older than 69-years-old, and haven’t observed changes to your breast, you can book a self-funded service.

If you notice any changes in your breasts, or have a family history of breast cancer, see your GP. Your GP can refer you to Canterbury Breastcare for breast imaging and surgical consultation. Some of these services are funded by public health services and private health insurance. Self-funded options are available too.


Quality Imaging using AI Tech

To provide for the rapidly evolving technological advances and interest in Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Pacific Radiology has purchased its fifth MRI scanner for Canterbury, the top of the line Siemens 3T Magnetom Vida, now installed at Forté Health on Peterborough Street.

MRI technologists Simon and Stephen with the new machine at Forté

MRI scans are minimally invasive and very safe; they do not use radiation and there is no exposure to x-rays.

MRIs image soft tissue structures in the body – for instance, the brain, eyes, heart and ligaments around joints such as shoulders.

Stephen Kingston Smith has been working as an MRI tech with PRG for more than 11 years.

He was involved in researching the purchase of the new machine and was impressed with the latest advancements the Vida has to offer.

“The patient has a much more comfortable experience,” Stephen says. “The opening on this scanner is wider, which improves the experience for the claustrophobic patient.”

Stephen was also impressed with the scanner software and computer advancements.

The new Bio Matrix capability of this scanner uses artificial intelligence (AI), which auto-detects motion and results in some fantastically clear images.

“It can scan a bigger range and has sensors which help image clarity in the case of patient movement and respiration. Scan times are also quicker on this machine,” Stephen says.

The new generation of MRI scanners produces much better soft tissue contrast in shorter scan times and is being used to scan the abdomen and pelvis with exquisite detail.

MRI is now being used routinely to screen for prostate cancer, small bowel disease and breast cancer, to mention a few.

Pacific Radiology radiologists and neuroimaging specialists are excited by the continuing growth and advancement in MRI.

MRI advanced imaging techniques of the brain. The colours are showing the direction of the nerve tracts within the brain.

Gareth Leeper, charge MRI technologist at Pacific Radiology, says, “The new scanner at Forté is producing the best pictures we have ever seen of the nerves right down to the hands and feet, and we have seen an increase in the number of referrals for imaging of the leg and arm nerves in patients with chronic pain syndrome.”

Pacific Radiology has built a team of talented medical professionals who have a wealth of knowledge trained extensively in MRI.

The new MRI scanner at Forté will help address the growing demand for MRI scans.

The team is excited to be bringing the absolute state-of-the-art to enhance their late model fleet of MRI to the people of Canterbury/West Coast.

Improving bowel cancer outcomes: Pacific Radiology

One of the most commonly diagnosed cancers in New Zealand is bowel cancer. In fact, we have one of the highest percentages of bowel cancer in the world.



Bowel cancer can occur at any age but is more common after the age of 50 years. Risk factors include a strong family history, a diet high in fat and low in fruit and vegetables, lack of exercise, smoking and inflammatory bowel disease.
Screening with tests such as a CT colonography means bowel cancers can be detected early before symptoms even develop, significantly improving outcomes for many patients.

CT colonography is a CT (computerised tomography) scan of the abdomen, which produces a series of low dose, cross-sectional x-ray images. These images are then processed by powerful computer programs into 3D pictures showing bones, blood vessels and soft tissues such as the large bowel.



At Pacific Radiology Canterbury, we are fortunate to have some of the most experienced CT colonography radiologists (doctors who read medical imaging) anywhere in New Zealand or Australia. “Pacific Radiology uses some of the finest CT scanning equipment and software accessible today,” Managing Radiologist for Canterbury, Dr Jeremy Sharr says. “We are constantly striving to improve our service so that the patient is getting the best medical imaging available.”

CT colonography is a highly accurate examination which can detect clinically significant growths or polyps in the bowel that may become cancerous. It is a safe, non-invasive and sedation-free alternative to a colonoscopy. No scopes are required. During the procedure only a small tube is placed in the bottom through which some air is used to help distend the bowel for clearer images.



The day before the scan patients are required to take some preparation for the examination to clear out the bowel. On the day of the procedure, patients have a small drink of contrast to help improve the visibility of the bowel on the scan.

Symptoms of bowel cancer are often non-specific but can include a continual change in bowel habits, the presence of blood in the stool, abdominal discomfort or pain, unexplained weight loss and bloating. Sometimes there are no symptoms. Early detection is a key defence against bowel cancer and screening tests are recommended for those at risk.

Please contact your doctor if you have any concerns about your health.



Pacific Radiology

Changing prostate cancer treatment: Pacific Radiology

We’re nearing the end of Blue September, the month to raise awareness of prostate cancer. It is the most common cancer in men in New Zealand but fortunately, when detected early, prostate cancer has an excellent cure rate.


Pacific Radiology
Some of the breast screening team, L to R, Jaishree Deb-Choudhury, Deb Jackson, Catherine Ritchie


A PSMA (prostate specific membrane antigen) study is an imaging test that determines the position and extent of prostate cancer. Pacific Radiology uses Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and low dose computed tomography (CT) imaging, in conjunction with Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MR), to help doctors assess the staging of prostate cancer treatment. Pacific Radiology radiologist Dr Justin Hegarty specialises in interpreting the PSMA and MR images. “We are starting to rely more on imaging to help diagnose as well as guide treatment options,” Justin says.

“Recent studies show that PSMA imaging often changes the type of treatment that a patient receives – for example, someone who before would have been treated with a prostatectomy might now be better treated with radiotherapy.” Prostate tumours as small as 2-3mm can be identified. “The clarity of the imaging ensures that patients are able to choose a treatment pathway that best suits them and that allows them the best possible outcome.”


Pacific Radiology
1. Small nodes like this are usually normal on CT.


Pacific Radiology
2. PSMA is present in the node, and we can now confidently predict it contains metastatic prostate cancer.


Supportive breast screening

a patient’s perspective


A few weeks ago I had my routine mammogram which is usually very uneventful. I was told at the end of the procedure that I would receive a letter in a couple of weeks if everything was okay. Then sometime later I was called to come back for more investigations. It caught me by surprise. I’ve got a friend with Stage 4 breast cancer at the moment so I immediately started worrying about what might be going on.

On my return visit, I saw the screening mammogram from a few weeks before. The images showed some little white dots of calcium that the specialists were concerned about. I was told I would have some more mammograms looking at that area in detail and also have an ultrasound with the radiologist. During the ultrasound, the radiologist said to me that she couldn’t see anything that looked definitely worrying, but they wanted to be sure. That’s why I was to have a biopsy in the afternoon.
The trickiest thing about the biopsy was getting into position and staying completely still for a very long period.

The procedure itself wasn’t too bad. The whole way through the biopsy there was a woman, Debbie, holding my arm to help me keep still, but also giving me support. Because I didn’t have a support person there, I really appreciated Debbie’s presence. There was also clear communication the whole way through and a real sense that they were being honest with me at each step. In the circumstances, the entire process was a positive experience. They phoned me when the results came through and thankfully the biopsy was benign.



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