A Mammography is an x-ray examination of the breasts during which both breasts are usually imaged.
Mammography is carried out by very highly trained and experienced radiographers on carefully maintained equipment. This ensures the best possible result with the least discomfort to the patient and minimal radiation dose.
There are many indications for this procedure and your doctor will have explained why this examination will be of benefit. It is very important to bring any previous x-rays and results previous mammograms or ultrasounds of the breast to the examination.
Yes, appointments are essential.
Patients will be asked to change into a gown, which can be opened at the front for ease of examination. For comfort, it is a good idea to wear a two-piece outfit for the procedure.
We ask that patients don’t wear talcum powder, deodorant or perfume on the day of examination as traces of these show on the x-ray films and may cause confusing shadows.
The films are usually taken with the patient standing. The breast is compressed (between a compression paddle and the x-ray detector) to ensure an optimal diagnostic outcome. Everyone’s sensitivity to the compression is different and while our best efforts are made to ensure the examination is not painful, it will inevitably be uncomfortable and may be painful. We ensure the compression is applied for only a short time and it is absolutely vital for an optimal diagnostic outcome. Films are taken in two or three different positions on each breast to ensure we display ALL parts of the breast.
The radiographer performing the examination will discuss this with you when you arrive for your appointment.
After the initial series of films are taken, they are viewed by a Radiologist (a specialist trained to read x-rays, in this case especially mammograms). The radiologist may need to physically examine the patient to compare the films with any tenderness or lumps and may then ask for further films. This is not uncommon and should not cause alarm. Usually the radiologist also requests an ultrasound which helps to clarify features on the mammogram or where the mammogram does not show any signs of a lump despite a lump being felt.
After all the necessary films have been taken, patients may wait for the films and report, to take back to the referring doctor.
It is not uncommon for some bruising to appear on the breast a few days after a mammogram, therefore do not be alarmed.
If patients have breast implants, please notify the reception staff and radiographer. In women with implants we usually perform an ultrasound first to assess the state of the implant prior to mammography. Additional mammograms are required including “push back views” and as such the appointment may take longer. There should be no risk of rupture related to the procedure of mammography alone. Patients will also be required to complete a consent form allowing the radiographer to compress the breast prior to the Mammogram.
A mammogram can take upwards of 30 minutes to enable the radiographer to consult with the radiologist and ensure a high-quality study.