Breast tomosynthesis, or 3D mammography, is an imaging modality that was FDA approved in April 2011. Breast tomosynthesis helps detect cancers earlier and more effectively than traditional mammography for women with dense breast tissue. A patient can learn if her breasts are dense by asking her physician or the radiologist who performs her routine mammogram.

The Kupferle Comprehensive Breast Center is the first healthcare facility in Fort Worth and one of only a few in the United States to offer this advanced imaging modality.

Breast tomosynthesis does not replace traditional 2D mammography; it is performed along with the conventional mammogram at the same time and using the same scanner. With tomosynthesis, image "slices" of the breast are taken from multiple angles and computer processing is then used to create a 3D image that the our breast radiologist can manipulate and interpret.

During the tomosynthesis portion of the exam, your breast will be under compression while the X-ray arm of the mammography machine makes a quick arc over the breast, taking a series of breast images at a number of angles. This will only take a few seconds and all of the images are viewed by the technologist at their computer workstation to ensure they have captured adequate images for review by a radiologist.

Benefits of 3D mammography include:

  • Improves radiologists' ability to screen for and detect potential breast cancers.
  • Helps radiologists pinpoint size, shape, and location of abnormalities.
  • Can help distinguish harmless abnormalities from real tumors, leading to fewer callbacks and less anxiety for women.

Candidates for 3D mammography include:

  • Women who have dense breasts
  • Have a strong family history of breast cancer
  • Have a history of fibrocystic changes in their breasts

What are the Risks?

The radiation dose for the combined exam (standard mammogram plus tomosynthesis at the same time) is under the FDA regulated limit for mammography. Adding tomosynthesis does involve a minimal amount of additional radiation, compared with a standard mammogram; but no risk from an amount of radiation this small has ever been proven. The FDA thoroughly considered the radiation issue before approving tomosynthesis for use in screening and diagnostic exams and ruled that the benefit of the additional information available to the radiologist outweighs any potential risk.

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