What is Mammography?
Mammography is a type of imaging that uses a low-dose X-ray system to examine breasts. A mammography exam, called a mammogram, is used to aid in the diagnosis of breast diseases in women. The American College of Radiology and the Society of Breast Imaging both recommend mammography as a means of saving lives. A study in the journal Cancer also found that regular mammography screening can save lives.
An X-ray (radiograph) is a painless medical test that helps physicians diagnose and treat medical conditions. Radiography involves exposing a part of the body to a small dose of ionizing radiation to produce pictures of the inside of the body.
We offer screening mammography (and other breast studies and procedures) for men, as well as women.
Digital mammography is superior to film mammography because digital images can be processed by a computer and displayed in multiple formats, as well as being able to be easily manipulated. In some cases film images are then digitized, but at the S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center the image is taken digitally, so there is no loss in resolution. This type of mammogram is called direct full-field digital mammography.
To schedule an appointment, please call 310-423-8000. You do not need a physician's referral before receiving this exam, but you do need to provide the name of your physician. The physician you designate should be one you have seen within the last two years.
What Is Computer-Aided Detection?
We are proud to be among the first to offer computer-aided detection (CAD) technology, a recent advance in the field of breast imaging. This state-of-the-art system is becoming the national standard of practice. CAD enhances the images obtained from a digitally acquired Mammogram, and can aid in the detection of any breast abnormalities, highlighting “regions of interest” such as abnormal areas of density, mass or calcification. In clinical studies, CAD has been shown to increase the detection of breast cancer.
What Are Some Common Uses of a Screening Mammogram?
Mammograms are used as a screening tool to detect early breast cancer in women experiencing no symptoms. They are also used to detect and diagnose breast disease in women experiencing symptoms such as a lump, pain or nipple discharge.
Mammography plays a central part in the early detection of breast cancers because it can show changes in the breast up to two years before a patient or physician can feel them. Current guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the American Cancer Society, the American Medical Association and the American College of Radiology recommend a screening mammography every year for women, beginning at age 40. Research has shown that annual mammograms lead to early detection of breast cancers, when they are most curable and breast-conservation therapies are available.
How Is the Procedure Performed?
During mammography, a specially qualified radiologic technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit. Your breast will be placed on a special platform and compressed with a paddle. The technologist will gradually compress your breast.
Breast compression is necessary in order to:
- Even out the breast thickness so that all of the tissue can be visualized.
- Spread out the tissue so that small abnormalities won't be obscured by overlying breast tissue.
- Allow the use of a lower X-ray dose since a thinner amount of breast tissue is being imaged.
- Hold the breast still in order to eliminate blurring of the image caused by motion.
- Reduce X-ray scatter to increase sharpness of picture.
You will be asked to change positions slightly between images. The routine views are a top-to-bottom view and an oblique side view. The process will be repeated for the other breast.
You must hold very still and may be asked to keep from breathing for a few seconds while the X-ray picture is taken to reduce the possibility of a blurred image. The technologist will walk behind a wall or into the next room to activate the X-ray machine.
When the examination is complete, you will be asked to wait until the technologist determines that the images are of high enough quality for the radiologist to read.
The examination process should take about 30 minutes.
For more information or to make an appointment, please call 310-423-8000.
The S. Mark Taper Foundation Imaging Center provides a full range of advanced imaging, both radiology and cardiology, as well as interventional radiology and interventional tumor (oncology) treatments to the greater Los Angeles area, including Beverly Hills, Encino, Mid-Cities, Sherman Oaks, Silver Lake, Studio City, Toluca Lake and West Hollywood.