3D Mammography (Tomosynthesis) at the UVM Medical Center
The University of Vermont Medical Center offers 3D mammography (tomosynthesis) which uses technology similar to CT scans taking multiple x-rays that form into 3D images.
Here are some frequently asked questions:
What is Breast Tomosynthesis?
Breast Tomosynthesis (3D Mammogram) is a new x-ray technology that is designed to help aid in the diagnosis of breast cancer. Breast Tomosynthesis is also known and referred to as 3D Mammography. It can be used in conjunction with traditional 2D imaging, to potentially provide a more detailed image of the breast. The procedure is the same as a standard digital mammogram. The patient is positioned and her breast is compressed, to provide a clear and accurate image. During the 3D portion of the exam, the x-ray arm sweeps in a slight arc over the breast, taking multiple breast images. The computer then produces multiple 1 millimeter slices of the breast tissue. The radiologist will then scroll through the slices like flipping through the pages of a book.
How can a 3D mammogram benefit me?
With conventional digital mammography, the radiologist is viewing all the complexities of your breast tissue in one flat image. Sometimes breast tissue can overlap, giving the illusion of an abnormality when none is actually present. Cancers can also be obscured by normal tissue. By looking at the breast tissue in one millimeter slices, the radiologist can provide a more confident assessment. In this way, 3D mammography can find cancers that remain hidden with conventional 2D mammography. It also can reduce the need for further imaging for patients who do not have cancer.
What should I expect during the 3D mammogram?
3D mammography compliments 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. You may see the x-ray tube moving during the procedure.
Is the radiation dose higher?
Yes, the dose is higher than standard digital mammography, but mammography is a very low dose radiologic exam. The dose for a mammogram using 3D imaging is well below the FDA guidelines for mammography and is about the same amount as a traditional mammogram performed on film.
Does a 3D mammogram cost more?
The equipment costs more than a standard 2D machine and interpretation is more time consuming for the radiologist. Despite this, the UVM Medical Center is not currently charging an additional fee for breast tomosynthesis. No preauthorization is needed at this time.
How has 3D mammography been implemented at the UVM Medical Center?
The radiologists and technologists have all had extensive training in 3D imaging. 3D screening has been beneficial to us in finding cancers in some patients already, and is available at all mammography sites. The radiologists have also found 3D helpful in patients needing additional images after a screening exam. This has increased our confidence in distinguishing between normal and abnormal tissue.
Please contact our office if you have any additional questions regarding 3D Mammography at 802-847-4162 or 802-847-5035, mammoinfouvmhealth [dot] org.