A mammogram is an x-ray image of the breast. It is typically used as a breast cancer screening tool and to identify the cause of problems associated with the breasts, such as lumps or nipple discharge. Patients receive only a minimal exposure to radiation during this exam.
Chattanooga Imaging is pleased to offer digital mammography at the Gunbarrel, Hixson, and Cleveland locations. All mammograms are interpreted by a board-certified radiologist. As part of our standard of care, the radiologist will use Computer Aided Detection (CAD) to assist in the interpretation. This is an FDA-approved tool that helps detect cancer in its earliest stage, when it is easiest to treat. CAD double-checks the accuracy of the mammogram, detecting masses and calcifications that are too small to be seen by the naked eye. Research has shown that CAD improves mammogram accuracy and cancer detection rates.
The American Cancer Society recommends that women have an annual mammogram after the age of 40. Your doctor may order a mammogram to look for the cause of any changes you might notice in your breasts.
What To Expect
The technologist will ask you to remove your clothing from the waist up and to put on a gown. If you are wearing certain types of jewelry, you may be asked to remove it so that it will not interfere with your exam. Wipes will be provided in case you need to remove any powder, deodorant, or lotion from under the arms and breasts.
The technologist will ask you to stand next to the X-ray machine, and will help you position your breast on an x-ray plate for each image. Then the paddle will be lowered to compress the breast tissue. In most cases, the more compressed the tissue, the more accurate the image will be. Although this may be somewhat uncomfortable, it is the most important factor in obtaining the best possible images.
While each image is being taken, you will need to remain as still as possible and to hold your breath to prevent any blurring. For most patients, two images are taken of each breast: a top view and a side view.
Your images will be interpreted by a radiologist. If there are any new findings on your images, the radiologist may want to obtain more images, and possibly do an ultrasound breast exam. In this case, our office will call you and ask you to come back in. You should not be alarmed if you receive a call-back — it just means that new findings need to be looked at more closely. In most cases, such changes are found to be benign and pose no threat to a woman’s health.
If you are coming in for a diagnostic mammogram because you are experiencing a problem with one or both breasts, or if you are coming back for additional images, you will be scheduled at a time when the radiologist is available to view the mammogram and decide whether additional studies are needed.
After the radiologist interprets your mammogram, a report will be sent to your physician and you will receive a letter explaining the results. If you do not receive a letter within three weeks, you may call 553-1234.
All mammograms performed by Chattanooga Imaging are interpreted by our own radiologists, who are required to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field by completing periodic courses in mammography. In addition, our extensive quality assurance program evaluates the performance of each radiologist to ensure that only appropriate cases are referred for further imaging or breast biopsy.
Breast Self-Examination (BSE)
Performing a routine breast self-examination is an important part of breast healthcare. A BSE should be done every month by all women over 20 years of age. The most appropriate time to perform a BSE is immediately after your menstrual cycle ends. If you are post-menopausal or have had a hysterectomy, a BSE should be performed on the same day of each month, for example, every fifteenth of the month. To perform BSE:
In the shower or tub:
- Place one hand behind your head.
- With your fingers flat (do not use your fingertips), move your hand over the entire breast area.
- Use your right hand for your left breast, and vice versa.
- Examine the entire breast, working inward or outward in circles from the nipple region to the outer edges of your breast. Or, examine each section of the breast in pie-shaped wedges.
- Check for lumps, knots, or thickenings.
Using a mirror:
- With your hands at your sides, check for visible lumps or dimples.
- Raise your arms up over your head. Look for changes in the shape or size of your breasts or in skin texture.
- Place a pillow or towel under your right shoulder, and place your right hand behind your head.
- Examine every part of the breast area including the underarm. Repeat on the other breast.
- Finish by gently squeezing the nipple of each breast to check for any crust or discharge.
- On the day of your exam, you should not use deodorant or powder, as some of the ingredients these contain may result in a false-positive reading on your mammogram.
- Tell your physician and the technologist if you think you may be pregnant or if you are breast feeding.
- If your last mammogram was performed at another facility, please ask for those films be sent to our facility so that we can compare them to your new images.
- Wear comfortable clothing with separate top and bottom. This will eliminate the need to remove your entire outfit for the procedure.