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Mammography and Breast Imaging
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Mammography and Breast Imaging

What is Mammography?

Traditional mammography is a form of imaging that uses a low-dose X-ray system to examine the breasts and project the image onto X-ray film. The examination, called a mammogram, usually involves at least two images of each breast - one taken from the top and one from the side. Digital mammography replaces the traditional X-ray film with solid-state detectors that convert the X-rays into electric signals, similar to ones found in digital cameras. The signals produce images of the breast that can be viewed on a computer screen or printed on film similar to that of conventional mammograms.

Montefiore Medical Center was one of the first facilities to embrace digital mammography. This advancement is particularly beneficial for women with dense breasts since image contrast can be changed on the computer screen. For both conventional and digital mammograms, the breasts are compressed in order to obtain the clearest possible picture, as suspicious lesions are more easily identified if the surrounding tissue is not as thick.

Why Would I Need a Mammogram?

Physicians recommend a mammogram because it is the most effective test for detecting breast diseases. A mammogram can reveal early stages of breast cancer up to two years before it can be felt during a physical exam of the breast. Current guidelines from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the American Cancer Society (ACS), the American Medical Association (AMA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) recommend screening mammography every year for women, starting at age 40.

What to Expect

Try to avoid scheduling a mammogram the week before your period if your breasts are tender during that time. The ideal time for a mammogram is one week after your period. Also avoid wearing deodorant, lotion or talcum powder under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam, as these may appear as calcium deposits.

During mammography, a specially-trained radiologic technician positions your breast in the mammography unit, which is rectangular in shape and has a special platform for the breast and a paddle which compresses it. You must hold very still while the picture is being taken to minimize the possibility of a blurred image. After the examination, you will be asked to wait until the radiologist determines that all the necessary images have been obtained. The entire process takes approximately 30 minutes.

At Montefiore Medical Center, special care is taken during the mammogram to use the lowest possible radiation dose. As leaders in mammographic screening and breast imaging, we offer the highest-quality mammograms, as well as cutting-edge diagnostic tests, such as breast ultrasound, breast MRI, ultrasound-guided core biopsies, fine-needle aspirations and stereotactic core biopsies.

Mammography is offered at the following Montefiore facilities:

  • Montefiore Advanced Imaging, Medical Arts Pavillion
  • Montefiore Advanced Imaging, Breast Imaging Center
  • Montefiore Medical Group Sites