What is 3D Mammography?

3D mammography, or breast tomosynthesis, is a relatively new breast imaging procedure, like traditional mammography, 3D mammography uses X-rays to produce images of breast tissue in order to detect lumps, tumors or other abnormalities. 3D mammography is capable of producing more detailed images of breast tissue.

3D captures multiple slices of the breast, all at different angles. The images are brought together to create crystal clear 3D reconstruction of the breast. The radiologist is then able to review reconstruction, one slide at a time, almost like turning pages in a book. This makes it easier for doctors to see if there’s anything to be concerned about.

Why is 3D Mammography Performed?

Traditional mammography produces just two images of each breast, a side-to-side view and a top-to-bottom view. 3D mammography produces many X-ray images of the breasts from multiple angles to create a digital 3-dimensional rendering of internal breast tissue. This allows radiologists to view the breast in 1-millimeter ‘slices’ rather than just the full thickness from the top and from the side.
3D mammography can be used for routine screening mammography and may be particularly effective for women with dense breast tissue or those at high risk for developing breast cancer.

Research suggests that radiologists are able to more accurately interpret results from 3D mammography in dense breast tissue, which can lead to fewer false-positive and false-negative readings.

The 3D mammography procedure resembles that of traditional mammography. The procedure takes place in a private room and is conducted by a radiologic technologist. The woman undergoing 3D mammography is required to remove any clothing above the waist, as well as any jewelry or other objects that might interfere with the imaging process.

During the procedure, the woman is positioned before a 3D mammography machine and her breasts are held in place by two compression plates. The pressure placed on the breasts by the compression plates can cause discomfort but only lasts for a few seconds.

When ready, the radiologic technologist will start the 3D mammography machine and a robotic arm will move in an arc over the woman’s breasts as multiple X-ray images are taken. The dose is similar to film mammography and is only slightly higher than in standard 2D digital mammography.

The scan itself takes less than two to three seconds per view. The entire procedure takes approximately 10 to 20 minutes.


Advantages of 3D over 2D/ Traditional Mammo

1 greater clarity and detail
2 Cancer detection is 40% better than 2D
3 Takes less than 4 sec to scan
4 Painless mammogram

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