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Introduction and General Information

A mammogram is a special type of imaging that uses extremely low doses of radiation to examine breast tissue and the structures of the breast.  It is the best way of detecting small cancers ever before they can be felt.  Mammography is most often used as a screening examination and is an important tool in evaluating subtle changes in breast tissue.

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.

Like standard film mammography, digital mammography uses x-rays to produce images of breast tissue. The difference is that with digital mammography, an electronic x-ray detector replaces the film cassette and converts the x-ray photons to light, which in turn passes through a fiberoptic cable to a device that converts the light to a digitized signal for display on a computer monitor. The radiologist can alter the orientation, magnification, brightness and contrast of the images as desired.  Digital mammography enables the technologist to immediately see if the image was taken correctly; usually freeing the patient from waiting until films are developed or from being called back for additional x-ray exposures after they’ve gone home.

Common Uses
A mammogram is commonly used for:

Breast Health Screening
  Breast pain  
Unusual Nipple Discharge
  Follow up procedure after cancer  
Evaluating lumps in the breast

Exam Preparations

Please avoid wearing deodorants or powders before your mammogram. We will be happy to provide you with an opportunity to wash off any products when you arrive at the center. Please let us know if this will be necessary.  We recommend that you bring prior mammograms from outside facilities to avoid a results delay.

If there is any possibility that you are pregnant, please be sure to tell your technologist.

During the Exam

A registered female technologist will perform your examination. A mammogram usually takes about 30 minutes to complete. You will be asked to change into a gown. She will also want to know where and when your prior mammograms were performed. Our radiologist will want to compare these studies with images taken at our center to evaluate any subtle changes that may have taken place. For screening mammogram, we will take at lease two pictures of each breast, one from the top and one from the side. Your gown is designed to be worn throughout the exam and to expose only the breast being imaged. Your technologist might need to re-adjust your position several times in order to get the desired image. We want to make sure that the entire breast has been examined during your mammogram. Sometimes women have dense tissue that extends to the outer aspect of the breast. When this occurs, additional “exaggerated” views are obtained. A diagnostic mammogram is performed on symptomatic patients. In addition to the views taken during a screening, the technologist may take magnified views and/or spot compression views in several projections. It is not uncommon to have 2 - 6 views per breast for a diagnostic study. The radiologist may also suggest and ultrasound for further work-up.

After the technologist has you positioned she will compress your breast between two plate-like structures. Compression is very important to your study. It lowers the radiation exposure, spreads the breast tissue so that it will not overlap and hide information and it helps to sharpen the image acquired. Compression lasts only several seconds and will be released the moment the exposure is over.

After the Exam

There are no side effects to the exam and you can return to work or normal activity immediately. Your films will be reviewed and interpreted by one of our board certified radiologists. Our goal is to provide your physician with a report within 24 hours of the examination. Having all your outside films at the time of your exam helps ensure your results within that time frame.

 Call to schedule your appointment: 310.287.4000

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