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Breast Imaging

Full Field Digital Mammography

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Mammograms are the most common type of tests used as a screening tool to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge and to detect and diagnose breast disease in women. It is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system to examine breasts by converting x-rays into electrical signals. The electrical signals are then used to produce images of the breast that can be seen on a computer screen or printed on special film similar to conventional mammograms. Mammography alone has 20% risk of missing cancer; LHA also offers contrast mammography which consists of adding a contrast injection to increase the sensitivity and specificity of the examination. The injection highlights only the abnormal tissue to allow a marked decrease in false positive diagnosis.

Preparation
Regular mammograms are an essential part of the modern woman’s life, so it is vital that you know the ins and out for preparing for one to find out the best time to schedule, how you need to prepare and what you need. LHA prides itself on information so follow these instructions to make the process as smooth as possible:

  • Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your period; your breasts are usually tender during this time.
  • Try to schedule your mammogram for the week following your period.
  • Make sure you inform your doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility of pregnancy.
  • Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. These can appear on the mammogram as calcium spots.
  • Information is vital, so describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam.

Bring in all of your previous mammogram results so your radiologist can better evaluate the situation at the time of the current exam.

Procedure
During mammography, a specially qualified radiologic technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a special platform and compressed with a paddle (often made of clear Plexiglas or other plastic). The technologist will gradually compress your breast.

Breast compression is necessary in order to:

  • Even out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized.
  • Spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities are less likely to be obscured by overlying breast tissue.
  • Allow the use of a lower x-ray dose since a thinner amount of breast tissue is being imaged.
  • Hold the breast still in order to minimize blurring of the image caused by motion.
  • Reduce x-ray scatter to increase sharpness of picture.

You will be asked to change positions between images. The routine views are a top-to-bottom view and an angled side view. The process will be repeated for the other breast. Additional magnification views may be requested by your doctor.
You must hold very still and may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds while the x-ray picture is taken to reduce the possibility of a blurred image. The technologist will walk behind a wall or into the next room to activate the x-ray machine.
If a contrast study is requested, an intravenous line or canula is inserted in your arm and contrast is injected before the views are taken.
When the examination is complete, you will be asked to wait until the radiologist determines that all the necessary images have been obtained.
The examination process should take about 15 minutes without contrast, and 20 minutes with contrast.