A mammogram is an x-ray of the internal breast tissue. It uses low-dose radiation to create images that allow radiologists to detect changes in breast tissue that could indicate a medical condition. The primary use of mammography is to detect cancer, however, mammography can also detect other, more common, benign conditions such as cysts and benign masses called fibroadenomas. Studies have shown that mammograms can detect some changes as much as two years before they can be felt during a breast exam.
What is a mammogram like?
After checking in at the front desk, you will be taken to the changing area to change into a gown if you choose. After changing, you will be seated in the waiting room until a room becomes available for your exam. The technologist will first interview you to confirm your basic information and to take a breast history from you. She will then take you to the exam room. In the exam room, the technologist will position your breast on the platform of the mammogram machine and then gradually compress the breast with a special paddle.
Compression is necessary to:
A typical screening mammogram consists of a top-to-bottom view and an oblique side view of each breast. During a diagnostic mammogram, additional views are taken focusing on the area of interest.
After a screening mammogram, you will be asked to wait until the technologist has reviewed the images to ensure that they are of a quality high enough to send to the radiologist for interpretation. In the case of a diagnostic mammogram, you will be asked to wait until the radiologist has reviewed your images. You may also, at the discretion of the radiologist, have an ultrasound at this time.
What is a ‘Call Back’?
If the radiologist identifies an area of interest on a screening mammogram, a technologist will contact you to ask you to return for additional imaging. About 10% of all screening mammograms result in a Call Back.
Receiving a Call Back does not necessarily mean that something “bad” has been found. Mammography detects many benign conditions along with the more worrisome ones such as cancer. Sometimes the changes seen on a mammogram are merely the result of the normal aging process or changes in weight, but any change needs to be addressed to obtain a definitive diagnosis.
Be prepared to spend an hour or more with us when you return for more imaging. Additional mammographic views are taken and sometimes an ultrasound is performed to provide additional information for the radiologist. If you are called back, the radiologist will review your images while you wait and you will receive your results that day.
We suggest you contact your insurance company to check your coverage for this additional diagnostic mammogram.
How do I obtain my screening mammogram results?
The radiologist will review all of your images and generate a report that will be faxed to your ordering provider usually within one business day. The results are available electronically for all of your providers to view. You will also receive a letter with your results seven days after your appointment.