Diagnostic Digital Mammography- About the Exam

Diagnostic digital mammography is used to evaluate women who have a symptom or change in their breast such as lump, developing firmness or other texture change, nipple changes, discharge or any new symptom related to your breasts. The number and type of images obtained will vary depending on the woman’s breast tissue, her symptoms, the location of the symptom, etc.

Digital mammography is a system in which the x-ray film is replaced by solid-state detectors that convert x-rays into electrical signals. These detectors are similar to those found in digital cameras. The electrical signals are used to produce images of the breasts that can be seen on a computer screen or printed on special film similar to compare to mammograms you may have had in the past.

Digital mammography can improve detection of breast cancer in some women. The digital technology available through digital mammography allows for more computerized analysis of a breast exam than was possible with film mammography. Digital mammography also benefits younger women with dense breast tissue, which makes it harder to detect tumors.

What you can expect during a diagnostic digital mammogram:

  • Your technologist will position your breast in the mammography unit.
  • Your breast will be placed on a special platform and compressed with a paddle.
  • You will feel slight pressure on your breast as it is squeezed by the compression paddle during the mammogram.
  • You will be asked to change positions in between images.
  • You will be asked to hold very still and may be asked to hold your breath while the X-ray picture is taken to reduce to chance of a blurred image.
  • You may be asked to wait while the radiologist or technologist determines that all the necessary images have been obtained.
  • The entire mammogram should take about 30 minutes.

Learn how to prepare for a diagnostic digital mammography.

Learn the benefits and risks of diagnostic digital mammography.

Watch the Mammography - What to Expect Video.