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Diagnostic Procedure

3D Mammography

3D mammography, also called breast tomosynthesis, produces very detailed images of the breast tissue. In 2021, Windsor Radiology made a new investment in the latest technology, Genius™ 3D Mammography, to improve screening and diagnostic mammograms:

  • Improved artificial intelligence software for an added layer of assurance that nothing is missed.
  • 75% less time in compression, making for a more comfortable experience for you patients.
  • Quicker exam times with a four-second scan and fewer images needed.

Having revolutionized how breast cancer is detected, 3D Mammography exams are making a difference:

  • Fine details are more visible and no longer hidden by the tissue above or below.
  • More invasive breast cancers are detected.
  • Superior exams are given for women with dense breast tissue.
  • Fewer patients are called back for additional diagnostic exams.

How 3D mammography works

Mammography uses X-rays to visualize the tissues of your breast. X-rays are absorbed differently, depending on the density or thickness of the tissue. As the X-rays pass through your body, the energy that escapes is measured by the X-ray device. The energy measurements are “interpreted” by the X-ray machine to produce images of the breast, with denser breast tissue and abnormal growths appearing “whiter” or brighter than the surrounding tissue. During the 3D exam, an additional series of images of breast tissue is created, with each image representing a “slice” of tissue. These slices can be viewed individually for greater detail of small growth or abnormalities, or they may be reconstructed into a three-dimensional image of the tissue inside your breast.

What is a diagnostic mammogram?

There are two types of mammograms: screening mammogram, which focus on the entire breast, and diagnostic mammograms, which focus on a specific area. Diagnostic mammograms are performed when a screening mammogram reveals an area of abnormal tissue, such as lumps or masses, or after a clinical breast exam finds a lump or other suspicious findings, such as dimpling or nipple discharge. Sometimes, the diagnostic mammogram procedure is followed by an ultrasound exam of breast tissue or a biopsy to obtain a small sample of tissue for examination under a microscope, especially if the lump has uneven edges or appears as a starburst. In some cases, abnormal findings may be due to harmless calcifications of tissue, and no further examination is needed.

What to expect during a 3D mammography exam

During your exam, you’ll stand (or sometimes sit) in front of the machine while the technician positions your breast on a flat, paddle-like surface. After the breast is properly positioned, a second flat paddle will descend over the breast, compressing the breast tissue so your breast is very flat. Because breast tissue is composed of different "layers," compression is necessary to enable the X-ray to produce detailed images of each of these layers. Compression also allows the machine to visualize smaller abnormalities that might be obscured by overlapping layers of tissue, and it enables these images to be made with less radiation exposure. Plus, it helps ensure the breast is held very still so the clearest images can be captured. Once the tissue is compressed, the machine emits X-rays to capture images of your breast in two dimensions, passing back and forth in an arc shape, creating a series of images of your breast tissue that provide views from different angles. You’ll need to hold very still during the imaging exam to ensure the clearest images are captured. After your exam, the images will be sent to one of our board-certified radiologists for interpretation; then the final report will be sent to your doctor.

What to expect during a 3D mammography exam

The mammography machine is a box-shaped device that contains the X-ray apparatus. During your exam, you’ll stand (or sometimes sit) in front of the box while the technician positions your breast on a flat, paddle-like surface. After the breast is properly positioned, a second flat paddle will descend over the breast, compressing the breast tissue so your breast is very flat. Because breast tissue is composed of different "layers," compression is necessary to enable the X-ray to produce detailed images of each of these layers. Compression also allows the machine to visualize smaller abnormalities that might be obscured by overlapping layers of tissue, and it enables these images to be made with less radiation exposure. Plus, it helps ensure the breast is held very still so the clearest images can be captured. Once the tissue is compressed, the machine emits X-rays to capture images of your breast in two dimensions, passing back and forth in an arc shape, creating a series of images of your breast tissue that provide views from different angles. As with 2D mammography, you’ll need to hold very still during the imaging exam to ensure the clearest images are captured. Most exams take a half hour or less. After your exam, the images will be sent to one of our board-certified radiologists for interpretation, then the final report will be sent to your doctor.

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