Mammography

Mammography plays a central role in the early detection of breast cancers. Mammography is performed at all Vantage Radiology’s imaging facilities on state-of-the-art digital equipment, and electronic images are reviewed by radiologists who specialize in breast imaging. Mammography can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Vantage Radiology follows the American Cancer Society breast cancer screening guidelines, which can be found on the American Cancer Society’s webpage.

General Information

How does the procedure work?

The breast is exposed to a small dose of radiation in order to produce an image of internal breast tissue. The image of the breast is produced as a result of some of the x-rays being absorbed while others pass through the breast to expose the image. The images are digitally stored and read by the radiologist on a computer. Images of current studies are compared to images of prior studies, if available.

How is the procedure performed?

During mammography, a specially-qualified radiologic technologist will position you and image the breast. The breast is first placed on a special cassette and compressed with a paddle (often made of clear Plexiglas or other soft plastic).

How should I prepare for the procedure?

Before scheduling a mammogram, please discuss any new findings or problems in your breasts with your doctor. Inform your doctor of any prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer. Do not schedule your mammogram for the week before your period if your breasts are usually tender during this time. The best time to schedule is one week following your period. Always inform your doctor or x-ray technologist if there is any possibility that you are pregnant. Please check in 15 minutes prior to the exam time.

  • Please do not wear deodorant, talcum powder, or lotion under your arms on the day of the exam. These can appear on the x-ray images as calcium spots.

Why is breast compression necessary?

Breast compression is necessary to:

  • Even out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized.
  • Spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities won’t be obscured by overlying breast tissue.
  • Allow the use of a lower x-ray dose, since a thinner breast tissue is being imaged.
  • Hold the breast still in order to eliminate blurring of the image caused by motion.
  • Reduce x-ray scatter, which also leads to poor image quality.

You will be asked to change positions between images. The routine views are a top-to-bottom view and a side view. The process is repeated for each breast. The examination process should take about 30 minutes. Once the mammography is completed, you will be asked to wait until the technologist examines the images to determine if more are needed.

Who interprets the results and how do I get them?

A radiologist, who is a physician experienced in mammography and other x-ray examinations, will analyze the images, describe any abnormalities, and suggest appropriate follow-up. The report will be dictated by the radiologist and sent to your referring physician. You will also be notified of the results by the mammography facility. This notification is usually sent a few days after the official report goes to your doctor.

Recommendations

  • Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder, or lotion under your arms on the day of the exam. These can appear on the x-ray images as calcium spots.
  • Describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam. If possible, obtain prior mammograms and make them available to the radiologist at the time of the current exam.