Mammography - Suburban Diagnostics

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Mammography is a specialized medical technique that uses a low-dose X-ray system to look inside the breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, aids in the early detection and diagnosis of breast diseases in women.

An X-ray (radiograph) is a non-invasive medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Imaging with X-rays involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the insides of the body. X-rays are the oldest and most frequently used form of medical imaging.

Three recent advances in mammography include digital mammography, computer-aided detection and breast tomosynthesis.

Digital mammography, also called full-field digital mammography (FFDM), is a mammography system in which the X-ray film is replaced by electronics that convert X-rays into mammographic pictures of the breast. These systems are similar to those found in digital cameras and their efficiency enables better pictures with a lower radiation dose. These images of the breast are transferred to a computer for review by the radiologist and for long term storage. The patient’s experience during a digital mammogram is similar to having a conventional film mammogram.

How should patients prepare for the mammogram?

Before scheduling a mammogram, the American Cancer Society (ACS) and other specialty organizations recommend that patients discuss any new findings or problems in breasts with their doctor. In addition, the patient should inform their physician of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer.

It is recommended that patients do not schedule their mammogram for the week before their menstrual period as breasts are usually tender during this time. The best time for a mammogram is one week following the period. The doctor should always inform the technologist if there is any possibility of their patient being pregnant.

The ACS also recommends that:
  • The patient should not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under their arms or on the breasts on the day of the exam. These can appear on the mammogram as calcium spots
  • The patients should describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam
  • Patients should obtain their prior mammograms and make them available to the radiologist if they were done at a different location. This is needed for comparison with your current exam and can often be obtained on a CD

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