Tomosynthesis is a special kind of mammogram that produces a 3-D image of the breast by using several low dose x-rays obtained at different angles. For tomosynthesis, the breast is positioned and compressed in the same way as for a mammogram but the x-ray tube moves in a circular arc around the breast. It takes less than 10 seconds for the imaging. The information from the x-rays is sent to a computer, which produces a focused 3-D image of the breast.
Preparation for a tomosynthesis scan
- Wear two-piece clothing (top and pants/skirt) to simplify undressing for exam.
- Do not apply talc, deodorant, oils or creams on your upper body the day of the exam.
- Some women experience breast tenderness with their menstrual cycle. If this is the case, she may want to schedule the exam 1-2 weeks after her period when breasts tend to be less tender.
- In some women, caffeine-containing products (cola, coffee, chocolate) could make breasts more tender. Women who are sensitive should limit caffeine intake for 2 weeks prior to exam.
- If you have had prior mammograms performed at other imaging facilities, notify your doctor so that the previous study may be requested for comparison.
- Tell the technologist if you have breast implants.
- Women should inform their doctor if they are or may be pregnant or nursing prior to any radiological imaging. Your doctor may recommend another type of test to reduce the possible risk of exposing your baby to radiation.
You will be asked to remove all clothing and jewelry above the waist. You will be given a gown to wear. You will be asked to stand in front of a special mammography x-ray machine. The radiology technologist will place the breast between 2 plastic plates. The technologist will press the breast between the two plates. This compression may be uncomfortable for a few seconds while the x-ray is taken. You will be asked to hold very still, without breathing for a few seconds. The technologist will step behind a radiation barrier and activate the x-ray machine. Immediately after the x-ray is taken the pressure is released. Compression needed for a tomosynthesis exam is usually about the same as that for a regular mammogram. For a tomosynthesis scan, the breast will be held in place while a special tube rotates around the breast. This should take about 10 seconds. You will not feel the radiation.
Time Required: 15 to 30 minutes
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