Digital Mammograms

icon-mammographyDigital mammography is a key tool Radiology & Imaging uses to help women prevent and fight breast cancer. Our advanced technology detects trouble spots in the breast earlier than less modern procedures do. Early detection can eliminate some health concerns. Treatments are more effective. And you are given the best opportunity for long-term health.

State-of-the Art Digital Mammogram Equipment

We offer full-field digital mammography at all of our facilities. Digital mammography has been shown to provide a significant improvement in cancer detection over film mammography in younger women (under 50), those with dense tissue on mammography, and those who are nearing menopause.

The Selenia™ digital system, manufactured by Hologic, provides extremely high resolution with outstanding clarity and detail.  The introduction of this technology represents a major advancement in breast imaging technology in the region.

Computer-aided Detection

A sophisticated computer-aided detection (CAD) program is used by radiologists during interpretation of mammograms.  The CAD software marks areas of potential concern on the images after the radiologist’s initial review; the marked areas are then re-examined to determine whether an abnormality may be present and if additional evaluation is indicated.  The use of CAD has been reported to significantly increase breast cancer detection.

How Digital Mammography Works

Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses low-dose x-rays. In the full-field digital mammography Radiology & Imaging uses, the exam machine employees solid-state detectors to convert x-rays into electrical signals. These detectors are like those in digital cameras. The machine uses the electrical signals to produce breast images on a computer screen or on special film.

Why Physicians Use Digital Mammography

Mammograms can detect early breast cancer in women who have no symptoms. The exam can find changes in your breasts up to two years before you or your physician can feel them. Physicians also use the exam to detect and diagnose breast disease in women experiencing symptoms such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge.

Preparing For Your Mammography Exam

Before scheduling your mammogram, discuss your health with your physician. Let her know about any changes in your breasts, prior surgeries, hormone use and any family or personal history of breast cancer. Try to schedule your mammogram about a week after your period. Always tell your physician or your Radiology & Imaging exam technologist if you could be pregnant.

  • Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts. On the mammogram, they can appear to be calcium spots.
  • Describe any breast symptoms or problems (soreness, a lump or other issue) to the technologist performing your exam.
  • If you can, bring with you any prior mammograms for our radiologist to review.
  • Ask us when your results will be available. Do not assume your results are normal if you do not hear from your physician or us.

What a Mammogram is Like

A specially qualified technologist positions your breast on a platform on the mammography machine. To take a clear image of the inside of your breast, the examiner adjusts the machine to gently compress the breast with a paddle. The compression is important because it:

  • Evens out the breast thickness so all tissue can be visualized
  • Spreads out the tissue so small abnormalities are more likely to be seen
  • Lowers the amount of x-ray dose
  • Holds the breast still to minimize blurring
  • Increases the sharpness of the picture

Normally, you will change positions between two images of each breast: a top-to-bottom view and a side view. You must hold still for a few seconds while each picture is taken. The entire exam process requires about 30 minutes.

Mammogram Benefits & Risks

A mammogram greatly aids your physician and your radiologist’s ability to detect small tumors. It is the only proven method to reliably detect certain types of small abnormal growths. These tumors cannot harm you if they are removed early. If left undetected, they can develop into cancer. A mammogram can increase your treatment options and your long-term health outlook when cancer is discovered early.

No radiation remains in your body after your exam. We take special care to use the lowest radiation dose possible. Radiology & Imaging’s advanced x-ray system tightly controls the beam. Stray or scatter radiation is minimized. The exam has no side effects.

While there is always a slight chance of cancer from excessive exposure to radiation, the benefit of an accurate diagnosis far outweighs any risk. The radiation dose from a mammogram is about the same as the average person receives from normal living in three months.

Five to 15 percent of screening mammograms require more testing. Most of these tests confirm the breast is normal. But if there is an abnormal finding, you may need a follow-up exam or biopsy. Most biopsies confirm that no cancer is present.

Limits of Digital Mammography

Your first mammogram images are not usually enough to determine the existence of a harmless or harmful disease with certainty. If a finding or spot seems suspicious, your radiologist may recommend further diagnostic studies.

Radiologists and physicians can find interpreting mammograms difficult. What is normal for one woman’s breast may not be normal for you. Factors that can cloud the image include powder or salve on the breasts, implants or the results of breast surgery.

Mammography is the best screening tool for breast cancer available today, but mammograms do not detect all breast cancers.

Computerized Tracking of All Patients

All patients who have mammograms performed at our facilities are entered into a secure computerized tracking program. Patient follow-up is performed by our tracking staff. Periodically, data generated by this system are reviewed to obtain valuable information about the performance of the mammography program as a whole, and this data is routinely compared with national standards.  The program also provides important information specific to individual radiologists.

Convenient Scheduling

We offer convenient hours M-F from 7:30-5:00 as well as Saturday mornings for screening examinations. Appointments for any type of study can be made at any of our sites through centralized scheduling. Our schedulers are dedicated to rapidly attending to your calls, obtaining any needed outside imaging and documents, and scheduling you at a time and location that is convenient for you. Their performance is tracked weekly based on your feedback. Our schedulers respect your time and will make every effort to ensure that this process as smooth and simple for you as possible.

We Subspecialize In Reading Breast Images

Radiology & Imaging uses high-resolution, state-of-the-art mammography equipment. The diagnostic detail our equipment provides is exceptional. Having a radiologist, like ours, who subspecializes in reading breast images means more expertise and experience is at work for you.

Learn More

Visit our Links page for additional information.

Book Your Screening Mammogram

We Support
Screening Mammography
for Women ages 40 – 49

18% of cancers detected on screening mammography in our region from 2003-2012 occurred in women who were ages 40-49. Read More >>