Digital mammography uses X-rays to produce an image of the breast and an electronic image of the breast is stored as a computer file. This digital information can be enhanced, magnified or manipulated for further evaluation more easily than information stored on film.
Because digital mammography allows a radiologist to adjust, store and retrieve digital images electronically, digital mammography may offer the following advantages:
- Health care providers can share image files electronically, making long-distance consultations between radiologists and breast surgeons easier
- Subtle differences between normal and abnormal tissues may be more easily noted
- Fewer follow-up procedures may be needed
- Fewer repeat images may be needed, reducing the exposure to radiation
Many of the Texas Health Resources facilities offer breast tomosynthesis, also known as 3D mammography, which helps detect cancers earlier and more effectively than traditional mammography for women with dense breast tissue. 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 breast radiologist can manipulate and interpret. Additional benefits 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
- Strong family history of breast cancer
- History of fibrocystic changes in their breasts.
Some content was adapted from the National Institute for Cancer.