What is 3D mammography?
3D mammography, also called tomosynthesis, is a breakthrough in mammography that provides clearer, more accurate images compared to 2D mammography alone. Research on 3D mammography shows improved breast cancer detection rates, especially for invasive cancers.
Conventional 2D mammography produces one image of overlapping tissue, making it difficult to detect cancers. 3D mammography acquires multiple images of the breast, which are then reconstructed into a 3D volume and displayed as slices. This enables the separation of tissue layers and improves the visibility of cancers, as they can be displayed without overlying tissue.
Is there increased radiation with 3D mammography?
3D mammography is safe. Radiation exposure to the breast is very low. The radiation dose for a combined 2D/3D mammogram is well below the acceptable limits defined by the FDA, and is only a fraction of the radiation everyone receives annually from natural background levels.
Do I need a referral for a 3D mammogram?
Women 40 and older do not need a written referral for an annual screening 3D mammogram. Women with unusual breast symptoms or who do not qualify for a screening exam need a written referral from their physician for a diagnostic 3D mammogram.
Will insurance cover the cost of my 3D mammogram?
Most commercial insurance companies only cover the 2D portion of the exam; they do not cover the 3D portion. Metro Imaging performs 3D mammography on ALL women. We will bill both the 2D and 3D exams to your insurance company, and we will write-off the 3D exam if it’s not covered. You will not receive a bill for the 3D portion.
How do I prepare for my 3D mammogram?
Very little preparation is required. You may eat, drink, and take regular medications. If you are premenopausal, it is preferable to have your mammogram the week following your period when your breasts will be the least tender. You will be asked to undress from the waist up, so it is advisable to wear a skirt or slacks rather than a dress the day of your exam. Do not wear underarm deodorant, powders, ointments, or creams on your breasts on the day of the exam. These can show up on the mammogram images and confuse the test results. Spray deodorant will be available in the mammography suite after your exam.
What can I expect during my 3D mammogram?
All exams are performed by female registered technologists who have had specialized training in 3D mammography. Your technologist will take a brief history from you and then have you change into a gown. If this is your first exam, she will explain the procedure to you step by step. Please feel free to ask any questions during your exam.
During the exam, the technologist will firmly, but gently, pull as much breast tissue as possible onto the x-ray detector. She will then apply compression to firmly press your breast against the detector. You may find the compression uncomfortable for a few seconds. The technologist will only apply as much compression as you can tolerate, but adequate compression is essential to view your breast tissues.
The 3D exam is performed after the standard 2D exam. No additional breast compression is required for the 3D portion of the exam; compression takes only a few more seconds. The x-ray tube moves in a 50-degree arc around your breast, taking 25 images. Those images are sent to a computer and assembled into a 3D picture. Overall, the experience will be very similar to mammograms you’ve had in the past.
The testing takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes. After the technologist has completed the exam, she will ask you to wait while she checks to make sure the images offer a complete exam. On some occasions, additional views might be necessary.
What will happen following my 3D mammogram?
Your 3D mammogram will be reviewed by the radiologist after the exam has been completed. In some instances, the radiologist will discuss your exam with you. If you choose OnSite Results, your preliminary results will be given to you before you leave our office. You will also receive a letter in the mail, informing you of your results. Your personal physician will be sent a detailed final report by fax or mail.