Q & A with Dr. Lloyd about 3D Mammography

Mar 12, 2015

3D Mammography: A new dimension in women’s health

Three-dimensional breast tomography, also called tomosynthesis, is now available at Imaging Services at Pullman Regional Hospital thanks to the generosity of community donations and a $248,000 grant from the MJ Murdock Charitable Trust. This technology is a revolutionary new screening and diagnostic tool designed for early breast cancer detection. During the 3D part of the exam, the x-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple breast images. Then a computer produces a 3D image of your breast tissue on one millimeter slices, providing greater visibility for the radiologist to see breast detail in a way never before possible. The radiologist can scroll through image slices of your entire breast like the pages of a book.  

What are the benefits of tomosynthesis breast exams?

The additional 3D images make it possible for a radiologist to gain a better understanding of your breast tissue during screening, often indicated the need for additional follow up imaging.

With conventional digital mammography, the radiologist is viewing all the complexities of your breast tissue in a single 2D image. Sometimes breast tissue can overlap, mimicking an abnormality. This can lead to “false positive” 2D screening interpretation.  Conversely, layered breast tissues may obscure a true abnormality. By looking at the breast tissue in one millimeter slices, the radiologist can provide a more confident assessment. In this way, 3D mammography finds cancers which may be missed with conventional 2D mammography. It also means there is less chance you will be called back for further assessment of false positive areas.


What is the difference between a screening and diagnostic mammogram?

A screening mammogram is your annual mammogram that is done every year beginning at age 40. Sometimes the radiologist may ask you to come back for follow-up images. This is called a diagnostic mammogram, which further evaluates unclear areas on the screening exam. Diagnostic mamorgrams are also performed for patients with a specific breast complaint such as a palpable lump.  


What should I expect during the 3D mammography exam?

3D mammography complements standard 2D mammography and is performed at the same time with the same system. There is no additional compression required and it only takes a few seconds longer for each view.


Is there more radiation dose?

Very low x-ray energy is used during the exam; about the same amount as a traditional mammogram done on film.


Who can have a 3D mammography exam?

It is approved for all women who would be undergoing a standard mammogram, in both the screening and diagnostic settings. It may be most beneficial for women with densely glandular breasts.


Schedule an appointment for  3-D mammography at Pullman Regional Hospital

Call Imaging Services at 509-336-7614.


For more information, email 3Dmammo@hologic.com

Robert Lloyd, D.O. radiologist

Answers your questions about the new 3D Mammography technology that is now available at Pullman Regional Hospital.

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