Digital Mammography

Exam Information

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is a diagnostic exam that uses a low dose of radiation to take images of the breast. Mammograms are primarily performed to detect breast cancer, but can also detect cysts, benign calcifications and breast implant ruptures. According to the American Cancer Society, women over the age of forty should have a mammogram done on a yearly basis.

What is Digital Mammography?

In 2006, we began using the state-of-the-art Hologic Selenia Digital Mammography system. Unlike film mammograms, digital mammograms are processed digitally and stored on digital media devices. This new technology produces high resolution images that enhance visualization of abnormalities in dense breasts, and provides radiologists with more detailed information to make a diagnosis. Digital Mammography also significantly reduces patient waiting and exam time.

What is Computer–Aided Detection?

Computer-Aided Detection (CAD) is routinely used by Sutter Buttes Imaging in conjunction with the standard radiologist interpretation of the digital mammogram. Via a computer scan and review of each mammogram, this “double check” capability of CAD further highlights suspicious areas of the breast that may require additional evaluation.

What is the Difference between a Screening and a Diagnostic Mammogram?

A screening mammogram is a routine examination of the breasts performed when there are no signs or symptoms. It usually involves two x-rays of each breast. The goal of a screening mammogram is to detect breast cancer when it is still too small to be felt by a woman or her physician.

A diagnostic mammogram is performed when the patient is experiencing signs or symptoms in her breasts that could indicate a problem such as pain, mass, nipple discharge or tissue thickening. Unlike a screening mammogram, a diagnostic mammogram consists of several x-rays taken of each breast. The images are then reviewed by the radiologist while the patient is at the office and, if more information is needed; additional spot compression or magnification views, and/or breast ultrasound may be performed at a subsequent time.

Your doctor and/or the radiologist will determine the appropriate type of mammogram to be performed.

What are Spot Compressions and Magnification Views?

If the radiologist sees something unusual on the screening images, the patient may be asked to come back for Spot compression and/or Magnification views.

Spot compression views focus in on a specific area of the breast by further separating the breast tissue allowing for better visualization of the small area in question.

Magnification views provide a clearer assessment of a suspicious area or a mass on the breast. They are often used to evaluate micro-calcifications, tiny specks of calcium in the breast that may indicate a small cancer.

Should women with breast implants get screening mammograms?

Women with breast implants should continue to have mammograms. It is important to inform the mammogram facility about breast implants when scheduling a mammogram. Generally, implants can hide breast tissue, making it difficult for the radiologist to detect any abnormalities on the mammogram. In this case, more time is needed to perform an accurate exam.


If possible, you should arrange to obtain your prior mammogram films and make them available to the radiologist at the time of your exam.

Describe any breast symptoms or problems you may be having to the technologist performing your mammogram.

Before your exam, you will be asked to remove all clothing from the waist up. You will be given a gown that opens in the front. It is important that you remove any deodorant, powder or antiperspirant you are wearing as some of the particles in these materials can mimic breast cancer on the images.

What To Expect

mammo_techslgDuring the exam, the technologist will carefully position each breast, one at a time, on the  image plate. Each breast is then compressed with a paddle to separate the breast tissue. The compression of the breasts allows for better image quality. You may feel some slight discomfort for a short period of time. Typically, a digital mammogram lasts between 10-15 minutes. At Sutter Buttes Imaging, our mammography department is accredited by the American College of Radiology and certified by the Food and Drug Administration.