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
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
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
Benefits of 3D mammography
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
Women who have dense
Have a strong family history of
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.