Digital breast tomosynthesis (tomo), also known as 3D mammography, is a revolutionary new screening and diagnostic breast imaging tool to improve the early detection of breast cancer. During the 3D part of the exam, an X-ray arm sweeps over the breast, taking multiple images in seconds. Images are displayed as a series of thin slices that can be viewed by our radiologists as individual images or in a dynamic interactive animation. 3D mammography is often used in combination with 2D digital mammography.
Benefits of 3D Mammography
Two of the top benefits of 3D mammography are improving the early detection of breast cancer and providing peace of mind due to greater clarity and accuracy. This increased accuracy reduces the number of call-backs, sparing women the anxiety, inconvenience, and expense of coming back for further imaging.
How is 3D mammography different from 2D?
Traditional digital mammography takes two-dimensional pictures of the breast and is still an effective tool for detecting breast abnormalities. Rather than viewing the breast tissue in 2D images, with 3D images our radiologists can now examine the tissue one thin layer at a time, making fine details more visible and less likely to be hidden by overlapping tissue.
Do I need a referral for a 3D mammogram?
Patients 40 or older do not need a written referral from their healthcare provider for a routine annual mammogram. Patients younger than 40 will need a written referral. This technology has become our new standard of care and is available to all patients for screening and diagnostic mammograms.
Is there increased radiation with 3D mammography?
3D mammography is quite safe. Radiation exposure to the breast is very low. In fact, the radiation dose for a combined 2D/3D mammography exam is well below the acceptable limits defined by the FDA, and is only a fraction of the level of radiation you receive from natural sources.
What can patients expect during a 3D mammogram?
3D mammography complements standard 2D mammography. No additional breast compression is required and it only takes a few more seconds. The experience will be very similar to mammograms patients have had in the past. As is typical with any mammogram exam, some women experience minor discomfort and others experience no discomfort at all.
With 3D mammography, do I still need an annual screening?
Yes. All women are at risk for breast cancer, regardless of symptoms or family history. Mammograms often can detect potential problems before they can be felt. Early detection greatly increases treatment options and the likelihood of successful recovery. Although 2D/3D combination exams have been proven to detect more cancers, it is still recommended that all women 40 or older receive a routine screening mammogram every year.
Is 3D mammography safe for women with breast implants?
Yes. Mammography, both 2D and 3D, is safe for women with breast implants. Most breast implants are designed to withstand hundreds of pounds of pressure. A mammogram generates an average of 20 lbs. of pressure.
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