Patient Instructions for Breast Imaging Exams
Mammography is one of the most important procedures in examining a woman for breast cancer. This examination passes low dose X–rays through the breast tissue and produces a picture of the tissue inside the breast.
Mammography detects most, but not all breast cancers. Having a physical examination of your breast by a health care provider is also an important part of breast screening. Some cancers are found by physical examination alone and may not be detected on mammogram. We recommend a physical examination be coordinated with you mammogram done annually.
During a screening examination, the technologist generally will take at least two films of each breast. She will position your breast between two pieces of plastic to compress the tissue. This achieves the maximum amount of detail to be visualized on each film. The compression may produce varying degrees of discomfort.
- New clinical problem
- Recent incomplete or indeterminate mammogram
- Recent personal history of breast cancer undergoing current treatment
The diagnostic mammogram takes a variable amount of time and is usually a much longer appointment time than a screening mammogram. The radiologist on duty may direct your evaluation at the time of examination, although he/she will dictate your final report at a later time.
Please note that a physician's referral is required for a diagnostic mammography appointment.
- Refrain from using underarm deodorant, lotions or creams on the day of the examination. These may interfere with the interpretation of the images. If you happen to forget not to use these items, please inform the technologist so that she may give you supplies to wash with.
- Wear comfortable clothing for your examination. You will be asked to remove your blouse and bra and to wear a gown provided. Your personal items may be placed in a locker in our dressing area.
- If you are aware that you experience breast tenderness, we suggest you abstain from caffeine containing products during the week prior to your examination. Caffeine does not affect the results of the tests, but abstaining may lessen the discomfort experienced during compression. We also suggest that you schedule your appointment during the first two weeks after your menstrual cycle.
- The technologist will ask that you remain still while each X–ray picture is taken. Movement will blur the picture. Do not be concerned if additional pictures are taken. Occasionally this is necessary for technical reasons or to view a particular area better.
You may check out your films from our file room after one week. This time is needed to ensure that your films are properly reviewed and your examination is completed including finalizing your report. Please allot for this time if you have another appointment that requires a copy of your films or your final report.