What is Mammography?
Mammography is a specific type of imaging that uses a low-dose x-ray system for the examination of breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used as a screening tool to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms and to detect and diagnose breast disease in women experiencing symptoms such a lump, pain or nipple discharge.
Mammography plays a central part in early detection of breast cancers. However, initial mammography images themselves are not always enough to determine the existence of benign or malignant disease with certainty. Depending on the findings, the Radiologist may recommend further diagnostic studies.
What is Digital Mammography?
Digital mammography is the latest technology for breast cancer early detection. From a patient's perspective, the exam itself is similar to conventional film mammography in that both use x-ray and compression to generate images of the breast. However, instead of using film to capture and record images, a digital mammogram uses a special detector to capture and convert x-ray energy into a digital image that can be viewed on a computer monitor. Both of Morris Hospital's mammography systems are digital, which means every woman who comes to Morris Hospital for a mammogram will have her exam using the digital technology.
What are the Benefits of Digital Mammography?
Although women may notice little difference during the exam, digital mammography does offer some key advantages:
Digital mammography produces images that appear on the computer monitor in a matter of seconds. Since there is no waiting for film to develop, patients may spend less time in the mammography suite.
Digital mammography can greatly reduce the need for retakes due to over or under exposure of film.
When reading the results of a digital mammogram, the radiologist can view and manipulate the images on a high-resolution computer monitor that enhances the visualization of the structures within the breast tissue. The radiologist can also adjust brightness and contrast, and zoom in on specific areas to help detect small calcifications, masses and other changes that may be signs of cancer.
Because they are electronic, digital mammography images can be transmitted quickly across a network, just like computer files.
Digital images can be easily stored, copies, without any loss of information, and transmitted and received in a more streamlined manner, eliminating the dependence on only one set of "original" films.
What is Computer-Aided Detection?
Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers has further enhanced its digital mammography services by using Computer-Aided Detection (CAD). When activated, CAD highlights abnormalities to assist the radiologist in making a diagnosis. In essence, CAD is a second set of eyes to support and enhance the radiologist's findings.
What does it mean to be a Softer Mammogram Provider?
Along with digital mammography, Morris Hospital uses MammoPads for every patient exam. MammoPads are soft, warm, single-use foam cushions that are placed between the patient and surfance of the mammography unit. Clinical studies have shown that three out of four women experience an average 50 percent decrease in discomfort when the MammoPad is used. The reduction of discomfort helps women relax and assists the technologist in properly positioning the breast and obtaining sufficient compression, both key components of a good mammogram.
What will the exam be like?
Once you arrive at the imaging department you will be asked to change into a gown before your examination. You will also be asked to remove jewelry, or any metal objects that could obscure the images.
The individual who will perform the study is known as a Mammography Technologist. She has completed a rigorous course in Radiologic Technology and additional training in Mammography.
The technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a special platform and compressed with a paddle made of clear Plexiglas or other plastic. Breast compression is necessary in order to spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities won?t be obscured by overlying breast tissue. Compression also allows the use of a lower x-ray dose since a thinner amount of breast tissue is being imaged and it also holds the breast still to eliminate blurring of the image caused by motion.
You will be asked to change positions slightly between images. The routine views are a top-to-bottom view and an angled side view. The process will be repeated for the other breast.
When the mammogram is completed you will be asked to wait until the technologist examines the images to determine if more are needed. Sometimes additional images will be taken to assure a complete exam.
The Radiologist will review your exam in a detailed manner and may request additional imaging that you will be called back for, or additional imaging such as Ultrasound which your physician will order. Please do not be alarmed. The additional imaging is needed so you receive a complete, accurate exam.
How do I prepare for the exam?
You will be informed of what to do to prepare for your exam when you make your appointment.
Typically, you will be told not to wear deodorant, perfume, powders or ointments in the underarm area or on the breasts.
Please follow the instructions given to you when scheduling your exam.
The optimal time to schedule a Mammogram is 1 week after the beginning of your menstrual period.
If you have had a Mammogram done at a different facility, please bring or have the films sent to Morris Hospital.
How long will the exam take?
Mammography imaging will take less than 30 minutes. If you have implants, special views are needed and your exam will longer.
Following the exam:
You should have no discomfort or pain from this exam. You may return to your normal daily activities unless otherwise instructed.
A Radiologist will study the images and a typed report will be sent to your designated health care provider.
Women should always inform their doctor or technologist if there is any possibility that they are pregnant.
If you should have any questions regarding this procedure, please call 815-942-2932 ext. 7130.