One of the latest technologic advances in breast imaging, digital mammography uses less radiation to produce images of the breast with greater latitude and contrast than film screen mammography. Studies show a decrease in the number of additional views needed with digital mammography because of the ability of the breast imager to manipulate the images on the computer screen. Images are stored electronically so that studies can no longer be lost. Though not yet proven, it is hoped that digital mammography will increase detection of early subtle breast cancers.
TOMOSYNTHESIS (3D DIGITAL MAMMOGRAPHY)
What is breast tomosynthesis or 3D mammography?
Breast tomosynthesis uses a computer algorithm to convert digital breast images into a stack of very thinly layered mammographic images — building what is essentially a “3-dimensional mammogram.” During the tomosynthesis part of the exam, the arm sweeps over the breast, taking multiple breast images in seconds. A computer then produces a 3D image of your breast tissue one thin layer at a time. Now the radiologist can see breast tissue detail in a way that is not possible with 2D mammograms. . Fine details are more clearly visible, and are no longer hidden by the tissue above and below.
How does 3D mammography compare to digital mammography?
Clinical studies show breast tomosynthesis to be a superior means of detection over and above 2D digital mammography alone, . The Scientific Publications Comparison from January shows that 3D mammography detects 27% more cancers than traditional 2D mammography alone, and detects 40% more for invasive cancers like lobular breast cancer. Since the breast is composed of pockets of dense tissue surrounded by fat, when x-rayed, it creates an image that can look something like a smoky haze. The overlapping tissue in the image makes it difficult to see tiny “spots” called microcalcifications, and other subtle signs of early cancer.
Is there any difference in the experience of having a 3D mammogram?
A breast tomosynthesis exam is very similar to a traditional mammogram. The technologist will position you, compress your breast under a paddle and take images from different angles. A breast tomosynthesis exam may be used as a screening tool in conjunction with a traditional digital mammogram or may be used for a diagnostic mammogram.