A new biopsy machine has been unveiled at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
NHS Grampian is the first Scottish health board to have the breast biopsy equipment, which costs more than £65,000.
It will enable medical staff to examine specimens in real time during a procedure, reducing the number of biopsies that have to be taken.
The samples being scanned measure less than a millimetre, and being able to see the specimens while the procedure is underway has major benefits for both staff and patients.
Around 10 minutes is saved per biopsy, meaning less pain for patients and a reduction in bruising and discomfort due to compression.
Extra capacity for patient appointments and other clinical work is also created due to the new equipment.
Michelle Cumming, advanced practitioner with the breast screening service, said: “It’s called the Brevara.
“It’s a fantastic machine in that it sees our specimen live as we remove it from a lady, whereas before we had to do it blind.
“We would do 12 cores and take those samples away into another room which took a bit of time.
“With the Brevara, I can see my samples live and I can make a decision to stop the procedure early which is great for the lady as she’s not held under compression for any length of time.
“In the past it would have taken 40 minutes, but now it takes around 25 to 30 minutes. It’s an all-round better experience,” she added.
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The machine also cuts down on consumables in the department, reducing cost and any waste created.
Laurencekirk resident Sally Holland was the first patient to undergo treatment with the equipment.
The 51-year-old said: “I didn’t know that I was the first at the time. To me it was all straightforward.
“It took 20 minutes and I never saw the needle, it was all comfortable and the staff were fantastic.
“It’s nothing to be frightened of at all.”
In Scotland, women between the ages of 50 and 70 years old are offered breast screening every three years.
The aim of the screening is to detect breast changes at an early stage when treatment has the best chance of being successful.
Dr Gerald Lip, clinical director, praised the new equipment.
He said: “The new technology is great because it’s a two-in-one technology. It does the biopsy as well as doing the X-ray of the samples that come through.
“Now it’s all done in real time. Each sample comes through a little tube, into the X-ray machine that’s built into the biopsy machine and we can see it on the machine.
“If we see that we have enough, we can stop. It cuts down multiple steps in the process, it makes it much faster.
“We are definitely sure we are in the area we want to sample, especially for women for screening who come all the way from Shetland, Elgin or Orkney.
“It prevents multiple return trips and gets everything done at once. With a shorter procedure time, we’ve seen there’s been less side effects with complications from bruising, comfort is better, it’s easier for us to apply the anaesthesia directly so they’re not feeling pain using the machine.”