Breast Services: Diagnostic Mammograms
In women who have breast symptoms (problems such as a lump, pain, or nipple discharge) a diagnostic mammogram is necessary. These are also done on patients who have a suspicious change seen on a screening mammogram.
A diagnostic mammogram takes longer than a screening mammogram because it involves more x-rays in order to obtain views of the breast from several angles. The technician may magnify a suspicious area to produce a detailed picture that can help the doctor make an accurate diagnosis. Please expect to be at the center for at least one hour. The radiologists will be looking at your films while you are at the center. If the radiologist believes another type of procedure should be done, we will try to work you in the same day depending upon your schedule.
In order to receive a mammogram at the CBC, a woman must have an order from their physician. You may bring this in at the time of your visit or your physician can fax it to our center. Do not wear deodorant, talcum powder or lotion under your arms or on your breasts on the day of the exam. These can appear on the mammogram as calcium spots. Please describe any breast symptoms or problems to the technologist performing the exam. If possible, obtain prior mammograms and make them available at the time of the exam. Also let us know if you think you may be pregnant.
We recommend for menstruating women that they schedule their mammogram during the first two weeks of their cycle. The best time for a mammogram is one week following your period.
During mammography, a specially qualified radiologic technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a special platform (often made of clear Plexiglas or other plastic). You will feel pressure on your breast as it is squeezed between the compression paddles. Some women with sensitive breasts may experience discomfort. Be sure to inform the technologist if pain occurs as compression is increased. If discomfort is significant, less compression will be used.
Breast compression is necessary in order to keep the breast still to minimize blurring of the image caused by motion, even out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized and spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities may be seen.
The technologist will stand behind a glass shield during the x-ray exposure. You will be asked to change positions between images. The routine pictures are top-to-bottom views and side views for each breast.