Digital Mammography

Digital Mammography – Functional Principle

Mammography (in Latin: mamma = the female breast, in Greek: gráphein = to write) is an X-ray examination allowing to visualise even the slightest changes in the structure of the breast tissue. It is performed with special digital mammography systems which make use of soft X-rays. In comparison to the conventional analog mammography they produce images which are rich in contrast. That’s the reason why the mammary gland tissue is perfectly visualised. Moreover, it allows to detect fine differences in the density and composition of the tissue. Even small calcifications (microcalcifications), which can be evidence of breast cancer at an early stage, can be detected.
As mammography requires especially gentle procedures, we conduct our investigations with digital technology offering minimum radiation exposure and the best image quality. (See: Digital X-ray)

Digital Mammography – Fields of Application

Besides the regular gynaecological or personal palpation of your breast the digital mammography plays a key role in early breast cancer detection. Breast cancer is the most frequent cancer in women, which nowadays also affects an increasing number of younger women. Due to early detection it can almost always be treated very well or even be cured.

In the following cases it is necessary to perform a clarifying digital mammography –irrespective of the patients’ age:

  • palpable nodes or a hardening of tissue
  • palpable enlarged lymph nodes in the armpit
  • skin changes, such as retraction or bulging
  • nipple discharge
  • high risk of breast cancer (patient suffering from cancer, precursors of breast cancer or breast cancer itself in the family, strong genetic predisposition)

Digital Mammography – Process of Examination

Digital mammography should be carried out in the middle of the menstrual cycle, about 10 days after the last period. During this phase of the cycle, the glandular tissue is somewhat loosened, which helps to improve the quality of the images on the one hand and makes the breast not so pressure-sensitive on the other hand.

It is necessary to know that the compression is important for a good image quality. Therefore, the breast will be cautiously compressed with a Plexiglas plate. Our medical technical radiology assistant discusses the whole process with you and helps you to define the right intensity of compression.

The more the breast is compressed the higher is the image quality and the lower is the radiation exposure. The compression is performed as far as you can accept it.

Regarding each breast there are two images produced in different planes: a top-to-bottom view and an oblique side view. That’s how changes of tissue can be detected and localised efficiently. If there are unclear findings, additional examinations are carried out. After the mammography your radiologist also performs a tactile examination of the breasts and armpits and compares these findings with the X-ray images. This combination makes it possible to improve the diagnostic results.

Digital Mammography – Contraindications

In principle, we can perfom the digital mammography for every patient. But due to the fact that mammography employs X-ray radiation, the possibility of a pregnancy should be excluded. Silicone implants are at least a relative contraindication to mammography. Due to applying the digital technique radiation exposure of the mammary gland tissue could be decreased significantly in comparison to former X-ray imaging. A possible correlation between the development of breast cancer and mammography hasn’t been proved scientifically yet. Please note, that early detection considerably improves the chances of recovery.

Our experienced team will be happy to provide you with mammography examinations at the following location of RUHRRADIOLOGIE: Our practice in Ennepetal.