Women's Imaging Now Offering 3-D Mammograms

Posted Date: 1/12/2017

Mon General Hospital Women’s Imaging is now offering digital tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography.

“We have the most effective mammogram tool available for the detection of breast cancer,” said Mon General Hospital Radiologist Frederick Gabriele, MD.  “Three-dimensional mammography improves early detection and also reduces the need for patients to return for additional imaging.”

Digital tomosynthesis creates a 3-dimensional picture of the breast using X-rays. This is different from a standard mammogram in the same way a CT scan of the chest is different from a standard chest X-ray. Or think of the difference between a ball and a circle. One is 3-dimensional; the other is flat.

“Digital tomosynthesis still requires breast compression to capture the image, but quality is superior to a standard mammogram,” said Brenda Debastiani, Mon General Hospital Director of Imaging.

Research suggests that radiologists are able to more accurately interpret results from 3-D mammography in dense breast tissue.  In general, women whose breasts are classified as heterogeneously dense or extremely dense are considered to have dense breasts.  About half of women undergoing mammogram testing have dense breasts. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, women are likely to have dense breasts if they are: 

  • In their 40s and 50s.  Breast tissue tends to become less dense as you age, although some women may have dense breast tissue at any age. 
  • Premenopausal
  • Taking hormone therapy to relieve the signs and symptoms of menopause.

The guidelines for 3-D mammography are different for diagnostic mammograms and for screening mammograms.

  • Diagnostic exams are performed on patients who have breast complaints or who require a follow-up from a previous mammogram. These patients are automatically offered 3-D mammography. 
  • Screening mammograms are routinely performed on patients with no apparent symptoms. Unless they have been determined previously to have dense breast tissue, these patients must request 3-D mammography. Patients should contact their insurance companies to confirm coverage prior to the exam.

For more information about Women’s Imaging and Radiology at Mon General Hospital, visit MonGeneral.com/Radiology.

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