What is breast imaging?
Breast imaging is a diagnostic exam of the breasts that uses modern imaging technology to distinguish between healthy and abnormal tissue. There are several different types of breast exams, including mammography, ultrasound, biopsy, and MRI. The most common breast exam performed at Imaging at Valley View is 3D mammography, which uses low-dose X-rays to observe the breast tissue. A mammography scan is a valuable tool in detecting breast cancer in its early stages. Our uniquely trained team of radiologists of Imaging at Valley View in Glenwood Springs, Colorado are committed to providing each of our patients with exceptional service. This is why so many patients choose our practice as it is well-known for outstanding patient care.
Types of breast imaging
lmaging at Valley View offers the following breast imaging exams:
- 3D digital mammography: This is an advanced imaging test that uses state-of-the-art technology to convert X-rays into pictures of the breasts. These images are then transferred to a computer for review by one of our certified radiologists. This process also allows for long-term image storage.
- Stereotactic breast biopsy: This test uses breast imaging that utilizes low-dose X-rays to locate abnormalities so a small tissue sample can be extracted and examined under a microscope. This method is less invasive than a traditional biopsy, which means there is little to no recovery or scarring.
- Breast ultrasound: This scan uses sound waves to capture images of the internal structures and tissue of the breasts. This is usually performed to further examine abnormalities or a lump that was discovered during a physical breast exam.
- Breast MRI: This test uses a powerful magnetic field, radio waves, and a computer to produce images of the breasts. It's typically conducted as a secondary tool to a mammography or ultrasound.
Valley View is the only facility in Glenwood Springs to offer The Genius™ 3D Mammography™ exam.
Genius exams deliver a series of detailed breast images, allowing your doctor to better evaluate your breasts layer by layer, and over 200 clinical studies support the benefits of this technology. Studies show that the Genius™ 3D Mammography™ exam has greater accuracy than 2D mammography for women across a variety of ages and breast densities. And it’s the only mammogram FDA approved as superior for women with dense breasts.
We do not require a doctor’s referral to make an appointment for mammography.
Why is it used?
Breast imaging is used to examine the breasts to catch any signs of abnormality, such as breast cancer or a tumor. Typically, we recommend patients over the age of 40 to receive a mammogram screening at least once a year. Regular breast imaging can help detect a malignant or benign tumor, cysts, and observe a suspicious mass or microcalcifications.
How Do I prepare?
Any specific preparation instructions will be provided by our office before you come in for your exam. Typically, we recommend that you schedule your exam one week following your menses (if applicable) because the breasts tend to be less tender during this time.
The imaging exam will differ, depending on the type of scan you are receiving, but during a mammogram, our registered technologists will guide you to our private procedure room and have you stand in front of the imaging machine. Your breast tissue will then be positioned over the systems receptor and compressed for a few seconds to capture a clear image. You will be able to communicate with our radiologists throughout the entire duration of your scan. Once the exam is complete, you will be free to return to your normal activities.
Benefits and risks?
The benefits and risks will vary, depending on the type of imaging you and your doctor think is best for your condition. All of our radiologists are fellowship-trained and highly experienced in performing breast imaging scans. Whether you are receiving a mammogram, ultrasound, MRI, or stereotactic breast biopsy, our registered technologists will review all the potential risks with you prior to performing your exam. In many cases, the benefit of catching an aggressive and possibly fatal disease far outweighs the minor risks of an exam.
The following are some of the most frequently asked questions about mammography and breast imaging:
What’s the difference between a screening and diagnostic mammogram?
A screening exam is done on a woman without any breast complaints; a diagnostic exam is done when the woman or her caregiver report a new finding.
When should I start getting regular mammograms?
Most organizations recommend yearly screening mammograms for all average-risk women beginning at age 40.
When should I stop getting mammograms?
With women living longer, there is no specific recommended age to stop getting mammograms. If you are in reasonably good health, you should continue getting yearly mammograms.
If no one in my family has breast cancer, why do I need to get mammograms?
Up to 85 percent of breast cancers are random and occur in women with no family history of or specific risk factor for breast cancer.
How often is breast cancer genetic?
Less than 15 percent of breast cancers have known genetic links and only about five percent have a detectable gene mutation, such as the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 gene mutations.
Imaging at Valley View employs a talented and caring team of radiologists who are genuinely concerned about the comfort and overall well-being of our patients. Our imaging team also partners with the exceptional medical professionals and doctors at Valley View in Glenwood Springs, Colorado to make sure the imaging results are received promptly and smoothly so that patients can move forward with the necessary treatment.