Western Home Company Profile Latest News Our Doctors Patient Center
   


Introduction and General Information

What is digital mammography and how does it differ from conventional film mammography?
Is digital mammography better than film-screen mammography at detecting breast cancer?
What are dense breasts?
What are the advantages of digital mammography?
Is digital mammography available everywhere?
What about radiation dose?
Is compression of the breast still required with digital mammography?
 
What is digital mammography and how does it differ from conventional film mammography?
Digital mammography is a means of acquiring x-ray information without the use of x-ray film.  Specialized detectors, which are used in place of x-ray film, convert the x-rays into digital information.  The digital image of the breast can be viewed on a computer workstation with high resolution monitors, whereas with conventional mammography the x-ray films would need to be developed and then viewed on a lighted view box.
Is digital mammography better than film-screen mammography at detecting breast cancer?
The results of a major clinical study of nearly 50,000 women (The American College of Radiology Imaging Network’s Digital Mammographic Imaging Screening Trial, or ACRIN-DMIST) showed that digital mammography is more accurate than conventional film-screen mammography in detecting breast cancer in three groups of women.
DMIST results showed that, for the entire population of women studied, digital and film mammography had very similar screening accuracy. However, the study revealed that digital mammography was significantly better in screening women in three categories, such as those:
under age 50 (no matter what level of breast tissue density they had).
of any age with very dense or extremely dense breasts.
of any age who are pre- or peri-menopausal (defined as women who had a final menstrual period within 12 months of their mammograms).
What are dense breasts?
Dense breasts contain more glands and ligaments -- and less fat. Dense breast tissue appears as a solid white area on a mammogram. Tumors also are dense and appear as solid white areas on mammograms.  This can make it difficult to detect a tumor because it looks a lot like the dense tissue around it.  Young women are more likely to have dense breasts than older women.  After menopause, breast tissue tends to lose density and contain more fat.*
What are the advantages of digital mammography?
Digital mammography provides a number of benefits for the patient.  For the patient, DMIST demonstrated that digital mammography offers benefits to a portion of the screening population, as mentioned above.  Additionally, digital mammography enables the technologist to immediately see if the image was taken correctly; freeing the patient from waiting until films are developed or from being called back for additional x-ray exposures after they’ve gone home.
Is digital mammography available everywhere?
While more than 8,500 imaging centers across the country are approved under the federal Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) to provide mammograms, only about 25 percent of those facilities currently offer digital technology. 
What about radiation dose?
DMIST investigators also found that digital mammography offers reduced radiation dosage over film mammography.  Another advantage to digital, they wrote, “is use of a lower average dose of radiation without a compromise in diagnostic accuracy."
According to the American Cancer Society, one mammogram exposes a woman to roughly the same amount of radiation as flying from New York to California on a commercial jet.

Is compression of the breast still required with digital mammography?
From the patient’s perspective, the procedure for a mammogram with a digital system is the same as for conventional mammography – with compression of the breast.  However, patient wait time and anxiety might be lessened since results can be made immediately available. 

Call to schedule your appointment: 310.287.4000

 
 

Full Body Scan
Helpful Links
Pre Register For Your Exam
Pre Register For Your Exam
Learn More About Your Exam
 
   
 
Click to View Video Click to View Video