From a patient's point of view: A 3D mammogram exam is very similar to a 2D mammogram—both are performed together on the same scanner. Just as with a digital mammogram, the technologist will position you, compress your breast under a paddle, and take images from different angles.
During the 3D portion of the exam, the x-ray arm of the machine makes a quick arc over the breast, taking a series of breast images at a number of angles. The entire procedure should take approximately the same amount of time as a 2D mammogram.
Tomosynthesis is an optional service for the patient, which supplements the conventional mammographic images. While 2D digital mammography remains the gold standard for early detection 3D images can offer better visualization for radiologists who are helping certain groups of patients—particularly those with dense breasts, which is determined by a prior mammogram.
This image illustrates the differences in 2D and 3D breast imaging. In the "conventional" 2D mammogram (pictured left), there is an apparent area of concern that may require additional studies, like another mammogram or a biopsy. Instead, looking at the same breast tissue in a succession of 3D images (pictured right), doctors can now see that the tissue is, in fact, normal breast tissue that was simply overlapping in the traditional mammogram, thus creating the illusion of an abnormality. In this scenario, the patient likely avoided a callback for an additional mammogram—and the anxiety that goes along with it—thanks to tomosynthesis technology.
This image depicts a tomosynthesis experience from the patient's point of view. A 3D mammogram exam is very similar to a 2D mammogram. In fact, both images are taken at the same time, on the same scanner. And just as with a 2D digital mammogram, the technologist positions the patient, compresses their breast under a paddle and takes images from different angles. During the 3D portion of the exam, the machine's x-ray arm makes a quick arc over the breast, taking a series of images at a number of angles. Tomosynthesis adds no time to the exam, with the entire procedure taking approximately the same amount of time as that of a 2D mammogram.
Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (also known as 3D mammography) was approved by the FDA in February 2011. It is a modification of the current 2D (digital) mammography that, instead, produces a 3D image of the breast.
However, DBT allows for a more detailed mammogram. Instead of taking an image of the breast from top-to-bottom and side-to-side as conventional mammography does, DBT follows the curvature of the breast and takes several images of the breast as it moves. Those images are sent to a computer, where they are compiled into sharp, clear, three-dimensional (3-D) images. Within those images, your doctor can better evaluate your breast, layer by layer. He or she can adjust brightness and contrast, and zoom-in on specific areas to help detect small calcifications, masses and other changes that may be signs of early cancer.
The researchers compared cancer detection using full-field digital mammography (FFDM) versus FFDM plus digital breast tomosynthesis in 25,547 women between the ages of 50 and 69. Breast density was classified based on the American College of Radiology's Breast Imaging-Reporting and Data System (BI-RADS). The BI-RADS breast density scale runs from 1 to 4, with 1 being the least dense and 4 being the most dense.
Why should I consider Digital Breast Tomosynthesis (3-D digital mammography) at my next mammogram?DBT allows for increased detection of breast abnormalities along with an improved breast cancer detection rate, specifically in women with dense breast tissue. 3-D imaging performed during your screening mammogram may decrease the need for follow-up imaging of the breast.
Talk to your doctor today to find out if 3D mammography is right for you, and rest easy knowing that, either way, Charlotte Radiology has you covered. To learn more about tomosynthesis, continue to read below.
We're thrilled to be able to offer tomosynthesis to our patients, but it's important to remember that 2D digital mammography remains the gold standard for early detection and has been proven to reduce mortality from breast cancer in all age groups starting at age 40.
Tomosynthesis creates multiple images or "slices" that step through the breast tissue. This allows the radiologist to see greater detail and helps reduce the impact of overlapping breast tissue. The process is performed at the same time as a normal mammogram, on the same scanner, with no noticeable differences in the experience or time expended for the patient.
An optional service for mammography patients, tomosynthesis can offer better visualization for radiologists who are helping certain groups of patients—particularly those with dense breasts. This improvement in visualization can result in fewer callbacks and, thus, less anxiety for patients.