3D mammography, or digital breast tomosynthesis, is a new technology that is performed along with 2D digital mammography. 3D mammography creates three-dimensional images of breast tissue. This imaging study is performed with the same equipment and in the same way as conventional mammography, but it uses computer software to create more detailed images.
3D mammography makes it easier to find abnormalities, which in turn results in fewer false-positives and can help lower stress and anxiety surrounding extra testing. If you would like to learn more about 3D mammography, please contact one of our participating locations.
Frequently asked questions about 3D mammography.
What’s the Difference Between a 2D Mammogram and a 3D Mammogram?
2D and 3D mammograms position and compress your breast in the same way to get X-ray images. With 3D mammography, the radiologist is able to review your digital photos from multiple angles and layers, allowing them to more easily determine if there are any cancerous cells in your breasts. This approach is particularly important for women with dense breasts, who have an increased risk of developing breast cancer.
How Does 3D Mammography Work?
Two-dimensional mammography provides the radiologist with a flat image of the breast. The addition of 3D technology allows the technician to obtain multiple views of the breast that are used to produce a detailed, 3D image for the radiologist to read. Women probably won’t notice much difference in the process when they choose to add 3D mammography to their screening because the same scanner that takes the traditional images is used to take the 3D images. The X-ray arm moves in a slight arc when taking the images that will be used with software to create the 3D image. This requires about one extra minute per breast, exposing patients to slightly more low-level radiation than traditional 2D mammography.
What are the Benefits of 3D Mammography?
3D mammography provides a more detailed picture that provides the physician with a better view of abnormal tissue and small tumors that may have been hidden when tissue overlapped in traditional 2D views. Women who add 3D mammography to their test may receive fewer call backs from the radiologist asking for second views of suspicious tissue.
Currently, one drawback to this new technology is the fact that many insurance companies do not pay for the test; however, the extra cost to the patient is reasonable, and the 2D traditional portion of the test will be covered by insurance. It is important to know that some insurance companies do not pay for 3D mammography. We recommend that you check with your insurance provider to see what your plan covers.