Mammography and breast tomosynthesis

A breast tomosynthesis examination is similar to a traditional mammogram, but it allows the radiologist to examine breast tissue in thin 'layers' that are typically one millimetre thick.

Breast tomosynthesis is the latest and most advanced clinically proven technology for the early detection of breast cancer. Modern equipment uses relatively small X-ray doses, with potential benefits far outweighing any conceivable side effects.

How should I prepare for mammography and breast tomosynthesis?

There is no preparation for mammography and breast tomosynthesis, but please bring all previous breast imaging reports to your appointment. If you are pregnant, breastfeeding or have breast implants, please advise Epworth Medical Imaging staff when you make your appointment.

Do not wear talcum powder, deodorant or perfume on the day of your examination as traces may show on the x-ray films and cause confusing shadows.

On the day of your appointment

Epworth Medical Imaging's friendly staff will greet you on arrival and take your referral form. You will be asked to change into a gown. For comfort, it is a good idea to wear a two-piece outfit for the procedure.

A radiographer with specialist training in mammography will perform the examination and explain the procedure. You may be asked some questions relating to your symptoms and family history.

To produce quality mammogram images, it is necessary to compress (squeeze) the breast as flat as possible. The radiographer will communicate with you to ensure your comfort. While some patients find this unpleasant, it is essential to obtain clear films. Compression will only be applied for a short time and both breasts can usually be examined in about 15 minutes.

During the 3D mammography component of the examination, the x-ray arm will sweep in a slight arc over your breast, taking multiple pictures in seconds.

A radiologist will examine the initial images and may request further mammography or recommend an ultrasound. It is very common for patients to undergo additional imaging to provide further information that will help the radiologist to accurately interpret the scans.

Self-examination

Regular mammograms can detect some breast cancers but they will not find them all. It is important that you self-examine your breasts each month and schedule regular checks with your GP. If you are not familiar with the self-examination technique, please ask your doctor to teach you.

Results

After your examination, report to reception where you will be presented with hard copy films. The radiologist will produce a report that will be sent directly to your GP or specialist. Please contact your referring doctor to discuss your results.