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Mammography FAQ’s

Is there any preparation before a mammogram?

You should avoid using deodorants or powders on the day of the examination. These products contain ingredients that can cause a false positive reading on your mammogram.

Notify your doctor and the mammography technologist if you are breast feeding or if there is any possibility that you are pregnant.

The technologist will ask you to remove your clothing from the waist up and put on a gown. You may be asked to remove certain types of jewelry if they will interfere with the examination.

If your prior mammogram was done elsewhere, please have those films sent to our facility so that we may compare them to your current examination. Medical facilities are required by law to release these records at your request and then send the films and reports to us.  They may ask you to sign a release form. 

You may download and print the request form and use it to obtain your records from a prior facility.  Please let our scheduling staff know whether you will hand carry your films or have them sent to us.

What happens during the examination?

You will be asked to stand by the X-ray machine. The procedure will be explained to you.

The technologist will assist you to position your breast on an x-ray plate for each picture. You may be asked to lift your arm or use your hand to hold your other breast out of the way.

Once positioned, another x-ray plate will come down to the first, compressing and flattening the breast tissue. In general, the flatter the breast tissue is squeezed, the more accurate the picture. While this may be uncomfortable, it is the most important factor in obtaining the best possible pictures. As the picture is being taken, you will need to stay perfectly still and hold your breath. This limits motion, thereby preventing blurring of the picture. Usually, two pictures are taken of each breast. One is a top view, the other a side view.

What do I do after the procedure?

If you are having a routine annual screening mammogram (and have no current problems or breast complaints), after your pictures have been taken, the technologist will have you wait a few minutes while they are developed. Once the pictures have been developed, if they are of good quality, the technologist will release you and your images will be interpreted by a radiologist later in the day. It is possible that when the films are read, if there are any new findings, the radiologist may want to obtain more mammographic films and, possibly, an ultrasound of the breast. If this occurs, you will be called as soon as possible by our office to return for those additional pictures. If you are called back, don't be alarmed. While new findings need to be investigated further, most findings are benign (not cancer).

If you are coming in for a diagnostic mammogram (to assess a breast complaint), or if you are returning for additional images at the radiologist's request, the mammogram films will be interpreted by the radiologist before you leave our facility. In addition to the mammographic pictures obtained during your visit, the radiologist may want to perform a physical examination of your breasts. You will be notified of the results of a diagnostic mammogram before you leave our facility.

How will I know the results of my mammogram?

Once your mammogram has been read by the radiologist and a report sent to your doctor, a letter stating the results of your mammogram will be mailed to you. If you do not receive this letter within three weeks, you may call (609) 677-XRAY (9729) or (732) 223-XRAY (9729).

Who interprets my mammogram?

All mammograms performed by Atlantic Medical Imaging are interpreted by our own radiologists. Our radiologists are required to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in the field by completing periodic courses in mammography. In addition, AMI's extensive Quality Assurance program evaluates the performance of each radiologist to ensure that only the appropriate cases are referred for further imaging or breast biopsy.

Why can't I have an ultrasound?

Mammography is significantly more sensitive than ultrasound for the detection of early breast cancer. Ultrasound is utilized as a problem-solving tool, following an abnormal screening mammogram.

Will this break my implants?

There is a small risk of implant rupture with mammography. You will be given a form to sign which discusses this risk. Because the risk of breast cancer outweighs the risk of implant rupture most women choose to have the mammogram.

Why do I need compression?

Compression prevents motion which can degrade the mammograms similar to the way motion can ruin photographs. Compression also spreads out the breast tissue which aids in finding small breast cancers. There are other technical reasons, related to the physics of mammography machines, which require compression. Suffice it to say that compression is essential for acquiring high quality mammograms.

When will my doctor get the report?

Your doctor will usually have a report faxed within 24 hours. The official typed report is mailed within 24-48 hours.  However, if your prior studies are not available, we may delay reading your mammogram until the old studies are received.

If your mammogram has a significant finding, requiring further evaluation, you will be called by our office to schedule the necessary additional examinations.

How often do people get called back for extra views?

Any time there is a suspicious finding on a mammogram the patient is called back for further images. Almost always these suspicious findings are found not to be significant. Occasionally the findings will need to be worked up further with MRI or biopsy. If you receive a phone call saying you need further images and/or ultrasound, do not be alarmed; just make an appointment as soon as possible. The results of the additional images and the ultrasound will be discussed with you prior to leaving the office.

Why do you need my previous films?

Prior studies are immensely helpful when reading mammograms. Every woman has a unique breast tissue pattern as seen on a mammogram. Almost every mammogram has an area that catches the eye of the radiologist, but most of these areas are likely present on prior studies. We consider prior studies so important that we will often delay reading mammograms until the old studies are retrieved.

Is this the new machine?

At Atlantic Medical Imaging all of our machines are state-of-the-art and comply with the high standards established in the Mammography Quality Standard Act (MQSA).

How much radiation am I getting?

The radiation dose is small. Every effort is made to limit the amount of radiation exposure a patient receives. Our machines are checked yearly by our physicists.

How long have you been doing this?

Atlantic Medical Imaging has been providing quality imaging since 1964.

Why can't I wear deodorant?

Deodorants can cause artifacts on the mammography film. These artifacts shows up as tiny white spots on the film, and can mimic suspicious calcifications. For this reason if a woman accidentally wears deodorant she may be asked to remove it prior to the study.

What is a calcification?

Calcium is found normally in bones, and in other areas of the body. Tiny deposits of calcium are commonly found in women’s breast and are called calcifications. Most calcifications are benign and can be safely ignored. Some calcifications are suspicious and will require a biopsy. Our radiologists are experts at identifying benign calcifications and at deciding which should be biopsied.

How long did you go to school for this?

At Atlantic Medical Imaging every radiologist that reads your mammogram is board-certified, and has years of experience in mammography. Our radiologists have trained at some of the most prestigious universities in the country. After training our radiologists are equipped with the skills to accurately read mammograms; however, we pride ourselves on continuously improving our skills through medical conferences and reading mammography literature.