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MMC Radiology is proud to offer 3D Mammography

What is a 3D mammogram?

A good analogy for 3D mammography, also called breast tomosynthesis, is like thinking of the pages in a book. If you look down at the cover you cannot see all of the pages – but when you open it up, you can go through the entire book page-by-page to see everything between the covers. 3D mammography is designed with the same concept in mind.

What are the benefits of 3D mammography over traditional 2D mammography?
The breast is a 3-dimensional object composed of different structures, such as blood vessels, milk ducts, fat, and ligaments.  All of these structures can overlap and cause confusion when viewed as a 2-dimensional, flat image.  A 3D mammogram allows the radiologist to look at the breast tissue in one millimeter slices free from the confusion of overlapping tissue.  Screening exams that include a 3D mammogram have been shown to be more accurate in finding cancers that may have been missed by 2D mammographyalone along with giving radiologists the confidence to significantly reduce their recall rates, minimizing the chance that a patient will be asked to return for additional tests.

Why should I have a 3D mammogram?

According to WebMD News, “Researchers found that 3D mammography, used along with standard digital mammograms bumped up breast cancer detection rates by more than 40%.  At the same time, there was a 15% dip in the number of women who had to return for more tests because of a suspicious mammogram finding.”

Another study was led by Sarah M. Friedewald, MD of the Caldwell Breast Center, Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois.  A total of 454,850 examinations (281,187 conventional mammograms compared to 173,663 3D mammography exams) were included in the study. 

They found:

  •          A 41% increase in the detection of invasive breast cancers.
  •          A 29% increase in the detection of all breast cancers.
  •          A 15% decrease in women recalled for additional imaging.

What should I expect during a 3D mammogram?
A 3D mammogram will be performed much like a 2D mammogram.  The traditional 2D mammogram and the 3D mammogram will be performed at the same time. No additional compression is required.  Adding the 3D portion takes only a few seconds longer for each view than a traditional 2D mammogram, however, the 3D portion must be done at the same time as the 2D; it cannot be added once the exam has been completed.

Is 3D mammography safe for patients with implants?

Yes, because there is no additional compression, there is no additional risk for patients with implants.

What about the radiation dose for 3D mammography?
Very low x-ray energy is used during the screening examination so your radiation exposure is still safely below the FDA guidelines.

Does insurance cover 3D mammography?
No, because tomosynthesis is new technology, insurance does not currently cover the 3D portion of a mammogram. 

What is the additional cost for 3D mammography?

The cost for 3D is $50.  Patients who choose to have 3D mammography will pay that at the time of the visit.  The 2D portion will be billed to your insurance as normal.