McLaren Health Care
Digital Mammography

Digital Mammography

Digital Mammography - Screening and diagnostic services can vary by location.

  • Mammography is a special type of x-ray that is tuned to detect breast abnormalities.
  • Mammography is performed both as a screening test (recommended annually for women over 40 and earlier in certain cases) and as a diagnostic test (when a closer look is needed or a specific clinical issue exists).
  • All mammography are 100% digital, which translates to better detection of abnormalities in women with dense breast tissue.
  • Your exam will be read by a specially trained breast radiologist.
  • A screening mammogram takes about 15 minutes. A diagnostic exam will take longer and may include using ultrasound to get another view.
  • Please do not use deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, or ointments as they can show up and cause confusion in the images.
  • The trained professional performing your exam, called a mammographer, will work with you to properly position and compress your breasts which is crucial for obtaining high-quality images.
  • The mammographer will check the images immediately for quality.
  • For a screening mammogram, the results will be sent to you and your physician.
  • For a diagnostic mammogram, your results will be communicated to you following the exam, and, if needed, a multidisciplinary team will coordinate the next steps in your care.

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray exam of the breast. It is used to detect and evaluate breast abnormalities, both in women who have no breast complaints or symptoms and in women who have breast symptoms including a lump, pain, or nipple discharge. An analog mammogram uses x-ray films to capture the image. A digital mammogram is a newer method that uses x-ray detectors and a computer to create the image.

Computer Aided Detection (CAD) is used and can be applied to mammography exams to help radiologists identify and mark regions of interest that are potentially indicative of cancer.

Digital mammogram with CAD

Screening Mammogram versus Diagnostic Mammogram

We take special care during x-ray examinations to use the lowest radiation dose possible while producing the best images for evaluation. National and international radiology protection councils continually review and update the standards used by radiology professionals.   State-of-the-art x-ray systems have tightly controlled x-ray beams with significant filtration and dose control methods to minimize stray or scatter radiation. This ensures those parts of a patient's body not being imaged receive minimal radiation exposure.

Although there is no radiation that reaches the uterus during a mammogram, we prefer not to perform routine mammograms on women who might be pregnant. If you are coming in because of a breast problem and you are or may be pregnant, please notify the mammographer so that we can decide the best way to evaluate your situation.

Before the Digital Mammography

  • Discussion: Prior to your mammogram, discuss any new findings, prior surgeries, hormone use, and family or personal history of breast cancer with your physician.

  • What to wear: On the day of the exam, do not use deodorants, antiperspirants, powders, or ointments since these can show up and be confusing on the mammogram. Since you will need to undress from the waist up, a two-piece outfit is recommended.

  • What to bring: If possible, obtain prior mammograms and make them available to the radiologist at the time of the current exam. You will be asked a number of important questions about your medical history so that we can assess your breast cancer risk.

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