Union Hospital Mammography Center

Frequently Asked Questions about Mammography

What is a 3D mammography breast exam?

A 3D mammography breast exam is very similar to a traditional breast exam. During the 3D part of the exam, the X-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple breast images. Then, a computer produces a 3D image of the breast tissue, providing greater visibility for the radiologist to see breast detail in a way never before possible.

Why is there a need for tomosynthesis breast exams? What are the benefits?

With conventional digital mammography, the radiologist is viewing all the complexities of breast tissue in one flat image. Sometimes breast tissue can overlap, giving the illusion of normal breast tissue looking like an abnormal area. By looking at the breast tissue in 3D, the radiologist can provide a more confident assessment. In this way, 3D mammography finds cancers missed with conventional 2D mammography. It also means there is less chance your doctor will call you back later for a "second look," because now they can see breast tissue more clearly.

What is the difference between a screening mammogram and a diagnostic mammogram?

A screening mammogram is the annual mammogram that is done every year. Sometimes the radiologist may ask a patient to come back for follow-up images, which is called a diagnostic mammogram, to rule out an unclear area in the breast or if there is a breast complaint that needs to be re-evaluated.

What should I expect during the 3D mammography exam?

3D mammography complements standard 2D mammography and is performed at the same time with the same system. There is no additional compression required, and it only takes a few more seconds longer for each view.

Is there a higher radiation dose?

Very low X-ray energy is used during the exam, just about the same amount as a traditional mammogram done on film.

Who can have a 3D mammography exam?

It is approved for all patients who would be undergoing a standard mammogram, in both the screening and diagnostic settings.

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