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MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan — Mammography screenings at Misawa’s 35th Medical Group have been suspended until a recertification process is completed.

Capt. Miki Gilloon, an Air Force spokeswoman, said Friday that the service is expected to resume in two or three weeks.

Women scheduled to undergo the screenings Thursday were told by telephone that appointments were canceled.

“This only affects the mammography portion of the hospital’s radiology department,” said Maj. Rudy Braza, the hospital’s diagnostic imaging chief.

Every three years, the mammography portion of the Air Force hospital’s radiology department must recertify, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration and American College of Radiologist guidelines, Braza said.

“It usually takes nine months to complete the process, which we started last July,” he said.

A package is forwarded to the ACR consisting of radiological films and quality-control data involving mammography examinations performed at the hospital.

After ACR approval, the FDA must then recertify a facility for another three-year period.

“A few months after submission, the ACR told us there were some technical problems with the manner in which some of the films were taken, and we had to resubmit them,” Braza said. That was done in November.

On Thursday, Braza said the hospital received a facsimile from the FDA “advising us to cease mammographies until we get the ACR recertification.”

The clinic here does nine screenings weekly.

Braza said it’s unclear whether the FDA was responding to Misawa’s initial ACR submittal package, or whether the agency was not aware of the resubmitted package sent to the ACR.

Late on Thursday, Misawa hospital officials contacted ACR and were told the recertification would be issued after officials there completed review of the resubmitted package.

He added it is unlikely that patients would be referred to practitioners in the local community because Japanese mammography standards may not be the same as FDA requirements.

Gilloon said Friday that if there is an urgent need for a mammography diagnosis, patients could be sent to Yokota Air Base for the procedure.


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