At Beacon Hospital Breast Centre we use three types of imaging:
Mammogram A mammogram is an X-Ray of the breasts and is a good technique enabling us to look at the entire breast on both sides. Mammograms are generally performed on women over the age of 35 who have presented to our breast specialist with a breast symptom. These are not normally performed in women under the age of 35 due to the thickness of the breast tissue. The thickness of the breast tissue in women under 35 can limit the value of the mammogram. The mammogram is performed by a skilled radiographer who will take two images of each breast. One image of the front of the breast and the other image from the side. In order to obtain a satisfactory image your breast must be compressed/flattened. This is of the utmost importance in obtaining a clear image and while it may cause slight discomfort it will not harm your breast in any way. Compressing the breast has the added benefit of a lower dose of radiation being required for imaging.
Ultrasound Examination Ultrasound examinations are used in all age groups to investigate lumps in the breast. They are also often used to focus in on any abnormalities that may have come to light during the mammogram. The ultrasound is not used to look at the entire breast but rather to zone in on specific areas. Ultrasounds are used in younger women (below 35 years of age) to give a clearer picture of the breast as the tissue may be too dense for a mammogram to be suitable.
Biopsy Your breast specialist may decide that a biopsy is the next step necessary to make a conclusive diagnosis. This procedure is carried out under a local anaesthetic, meaning that the area is sufficiently numbed, in order to minimise any discomfort to you. During this procedure a hollow needle is used to remove a small core of tissue from the lump for analysis.