ERAD Radiology

Mammography and Breast Imaging

What is a Mammogram?

Mammograms are a specialised form of X-ray that evaluates breast tissue. They are the most accurate method of detecting early breast cancer.

Women receive mammograms for various reasons, but it is primarily used for routine breast cancer screenings and to investigate breast abnormalities. Due to the advancement in mammography and breast imaging over the years, a mammogram’s radiation dose has decreased dramatically.

A breast ultrasound is an imaging test of the breast. It uses sound waves to create an image of the inner breast and help detect and diagnose breast abnormalities. 2D Digital Mammography is the most effective and safest way of detecting breast cancer. It’s recommended as a woman that you receive a yearly mammogram from the age of 40.

Types of Breast Imaging

Reasons you could be referred for a Mammogram

What to expect during your Breast Ultrasound

  • The procedure will be conducted by a radiologist or sonographer. They will begin by applying a gel-like substance to the breast area.
  • They will move the ultrasound wand over the breasts, releasing soundwaves that are transferred to the computer. 
  • The waves create a live-feed image of the inside of the breast.
  • In certain circumstances, your radiologist or referring doctor will request an ultrasound-guided biopsy. During this procedure, the radiologist makes a small incision in the breast and uses the ultrasound as a guide to take a tissue sample. This can be a little sore, but the incision will heal within a few days.

What happens if I need a Breast Biopsy?

  • Sometimes the breast imaging indicates suspicious findings which warrant a breast biopsy. Don’t panic if a biopsy has been recommended. We recommend biopsies on any lesion with a greater than 3% chance of being cancer. Most lesions that require biopsies can be performed without a trip to the operating room.
  • At ERAD, our radiologists perform minimally invasive breast biopsies. You are given a local anaesthetic to numb the area. The biopsy is performed through a small skin incision, and you will leave in approximately one hour with only a band-aid. You can resume normal activity the following day. Tylenol and ice packs can be used for any discomfort.

What to expect during your Mammogram

  • A radiographer will position you in front of the X-ray machine. They will open your gown and gently place your breast between two small plates.
  • These plates will then compress your breast for just a few seconds allowing the radiographer to take a digital image. It is a little uncomfortable, but there is no pain for most women.
  • By compressing the breast, we can produce high-quality two-dimensional images, reducing your radiation dose and better showcasing separate tissue components.
  • The radiographer will then repeat the process on your other breast before checking the images to ensure they don’t need to be redone.

Preparing for your Mammogram

Before you book your appointment:

  • When you call to schedule your appointment, please let the receptionist know if you have any specific breast complaints, such as pain, a lump or nipple discharge. You will need to see your doctor before having the Mammogram if you have any particular complaints.
  • Please inform our receptionist before the procedure if you have breast implants.
  • Make sure you inform your doctor of any allergies you have and if you are taking any type of blood-thinning medications (i.e. Warfarin).

On the day of your appointment:

  • Please ensure no creams, powders or deodorants are applied to your breasts or underarm areas on the day of the mammogram. Tiny particles, which cannot be seen by the eye, can cause artefacts on the mammographic film.
  • If you require a biopsy, we will explain the procedure to you in detail before it occurs. A breast biopsy can be performed by three different methods depending on how the area in question can best be seen. The three methods performed at ERAD are:
    • Ultrasound guidance
    • Tomography guidance (utilising the mammography machine)
    • MRI guidance
  • You will need to allow approximately two hours from when you check in until the time your procedure is complete.

What happens once your Mammogram is done

  • Once your procedure is done, you can get dressed and go home. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to drive.
  • Your radiologist will review the results of your breast biopsy and mammogram, and these will be sent to your doctor, who will discuss them with you.
  • Sometimes radiologists may call you back to get additional images done so the mammogram or breast ultrasound can be better evaluated.

Mammogram FAQ’s

Review our FAQs to help prepare you for your upcoming Mammogram.

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