Mammography is an X-ray picture of the breast. It is a specialised imaging procedure. The doctor uses a low dose of the x-ray system to see inside the breast. Mammography test is known as the mammogram. It aids in the early detection and diagnosis of breast cancer. Here we know the mammography procedure and how to prepare for the test.

What is Mammography?

Although, Mammography is an x-ray imaging methodology but low-energy x-ray around 30 kVp. By this test, doctors examine the breast for the early detection of cancer and other breast diseases. Doctor use this procedure for both as a screening tool and diagnostic tool as well.

Mammography procedure

The mammography procedure is quite simple. Firstly the patient will have to undress from the waist and put off all the necklaces. After that, she has to wear a gown that ties in front. As per procedure and facility at the testing centre, you may either stand or sit during your mammogram.

Each breast will place at the flat x-ray table. For flattening the tissues a compressor will compress the breast. Patients need to hold their breath during the picture is being taken. It will help to take a clear picture. Patients may feel a small amount of pressure or discomfort but it is completely normal.

mammography procedure
Patient preparing for mammography: Photo by Wikimedia

Advancement in Mammography

Three recent advances in mammography include digital mammography, computer-aided detection and breast tomosynthesis.

Digital Mammography: In digital mammography, electronics replace x-ray films just like a digital camera. It transforms the x-ray into a digital image and saves on the computer. Images will immediately ready so, radiologists have not to wait for the images. Their efficiency enables better pictures with a lower radiation dose. It also helps your doctor to see images that might not have been very visible on a regular mammogram. Digital mammography particularly helps women younger than 50 years old, who typically have denser breast than older women.

Computer-aided detection (CAD): CAD system digitised mammographic images and search for the abnormal areas of density, analyse the masses and clarification that may indicate the breast cancer presence. CAD system will highlight those areas for the radiologist to analyse carefully.

Breast Tomosynthesis: It is an advance mammography imaging process. It is also known as 3D mammography. It is similar to a digital mammogram but x-ray tube will move in an arc to take multiple images. The images will process by a computer and reconstruct a 3D image of the breasts. Although the amount of radiation is slightly higher than normal mammogram, it remains within a limit and acceptable.

Risk of Mammography

Exposure of radiation. During the mammography, you are receiving exposure to a small amount of radiation. However, It is very low. But, if a patient is under treatment and receiving exposure to a cumulative number of x-rays then he/she should consult with the radiologist.

If a patient is pregnant, she should inform to the radiologist. Radiation may cause birth defects. If mammography is necessary then special precautions will be made to minimize the radiation exposure to the fetus.

Preparation for Mammography

  • Scheduling. You should schedule the mammogram within two weeks after your menstrual period end. Women’s breasts are the least tender during this time. Women who are sensitive to caffeine may stop to take caffeine.
  • Clothes and accessories. You should not use deodorant, perfume, powder, lotion etc. Do not wear jewellery. It is advisable to wear two-piece clothing, such as pants and a top. It will be easy to undress for the mammogram.
  • Consulting with the radiologist. Give information about the previous mammography. Even if you did in elsewhere. Also, tell if you have breast implants, breast surgery or any concern for some part of your breast.

Here, we end but I will bring some more information to keep you healthy and informative.

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