Digital Mammography

Home > Diagnostics > Radiology > Digital Mammography

Digital Mammography


The following recommendations have been issued for all women with no abnormal symptoms. The American Cancer Society recommends screening mammograms for women 40 and older annually. 

About Mammography

A mammogram is a type of x-ray picture of the breast used to detect any abnormalities within the breast. It can help to find tumors and cysts, and to help differentiate benign and malignant diseases. It is an important screening tool in a woman's personal fight against breast cancer.

During your mammogram, your breast will be placed on a flat surface by the mammographer. A compression paddle will then be pressed firmly against the breast to flatten out the tissue. This may be uncomfortable but should not be painful.

In order to prepare for your mammogram, please do not wear any deodorant, powders, ointments, or perfumes under the arms or on your breasts. These items may cause artifacts on the images.

Diagnostic mammograms are recommended for anyone experiencing nipple discharge or breast pain, who has found a lump or dimpling of the skin on the breast, or a new retraction of the nipple.

Mammograms play a central part in the early detection of breast cancer because they can detect changes in the breast that may be early signs of cancer, but are too small or subtle to be felt. The use of mammography has greatly enhanced the ability to detect breast cancers at earlier stages.

What is 3D Mammography?

3D mammography uses computers and specially designed digital detectors to produce an image that can be displayed on a high-resolution computer monitor, transmitted and stored.

From a patient’s point of view, having a 3D mammogram is very much like having a conventional 2D mammogram. Both 2D and 3D mammography use compression and x-rays to create clear images of the inside of the breast.  During all mammography exams, the technologist positions the patient to image the breast from different angles and compresses the breast with a paddle to obtain optimal image quality.

Unlike 2D mammography, 3D mammograms produce a series of “slices” or cross sections of the breast tissue at 1mm increments. This allows the radiologist to better see inside the breast tissue.

The Benefits of 3D Mammography

Unlike other parts of the body, the breast is composed mainly of soft tissue. Some women have very dense breast tissue, while normal, it can make it difficult to see tiny "spots," called microcalcifications, and other subtle signs of early cancer. With 3D mammography the radiologist is able to view a cross section of the breast every 1mm. This allows for much more accurate results and early detection of any abnormalities.

With 3D digital mammography, the radiologist reviews electronic images of the breast, using special high resolution monitors. The physician can adjust the brightness, change contrast, and zoom in for close ups of specific areas of interest. Being able to manipulate images is one of the main benefits of digital technology.

Because they are electronic, digital mammography images can be transmitted quickly across a network. Digital images can also be easily stored, copied without any loss of information, and transmitted and received in a more streamlined manner.


Appointment scheduling is done through your physician's office. For any questions concerning your scheduled exam, please call Imaging Services at 563-652-4053. Mammograms are available Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.