Frequently Asked Questions

Mammograms

What is a Mammogram?

A mammogram is an x-ray of the breasts. In a routine screening mammogram, two pictures of each breast are taken. In order to achieve the best images possible using the least radiation, the breasts are compressed briefly during the exam. All mammograms are performed on state-of-the-art digital equipment by a technologist who has special certification in mammography. The radiologists who interpret mammograms have specialized training in mammography.

In a small percentage of cases of screening mammography, the radiologist may request the patient to return for additional imaging to better evaluate a particular area. Most of the time, these additional images show nothing of concern. It is important for the radiologist to compare your current mammogram with prior studies.

What Should I Bring?

If your prior mammograms were not performed at a Lifespan imaging center, either bring the previous films with you or let our secretary know where it was done when you book your examination.

How Should I Prepare for a Mammogram?

Do not wear deodorant or anti-perspirant on the day of your mammogram because they may interfere with the mammographic images.

How Do I Get My Results?

Our mammography facilities are certified in compliance with the Mammography Quality Standards Act (MQSA) and by the American College of Radiology (ACR) and by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Both you and your doctor will receive a letter after a mammogram discussing the results. Results will also be available on MyLifespan.

Breast Ultrasound

What is a breast ultrasound?

Breast ultrasound is a test using sound waves to image a palpable lump or an abnormality seen on a mammogram. The exam is performed by a certified technologist and interpreted by a board certified radiologist. Ultrasound does not produce any radiation. To perform the study, the technologist places gel on the breast and scan it with an ultrasound probe which is just like a fancy microphone. No preparation is needed for a breast ultrasound. Our ultrasound machine is specially designed for breast imaging.

What should I expect from an ultrasound guided breast biopsy?

The ultrasound guided breast biopsy is performed by a board certified radiologist who specializes in breast imaging. The radiologist is assisted by an ultrasound technologist who also specializes in breast imaging. This team has experience in these biopsies. Before you arrive, the radiologist will have studied your imaging exams to become familiar with the location of the abnormality.

After checking in, you will be asked to change into a hospital gown and escorted to the biopsy suite. Occasionally, additional images may be obtained before the procedure for more precise evaluation.
The technologist will ask you to lie down on the examination table, making sure you are as comfortable as possible.

How is an ultrasound guided breast biopsy performed?

The first part of the procedure will seem much like your original breast ultrasound. Your breast will be scanned and the technologist and radiologist will mark your skin over the abnormality. The radiologist will clean your breast with antiseptic. Next, the radiologist will numb the part of the breast to be biopsied by injecting a local anesthetic. This is done with a tiny needle, and you may feel a stinging at this point. After the local anesthetic has taken effect, the radiologist will place the needle using the image as a guide and take several samples.

How should I prepare for an ultrasound guided breast biopsy?

If you are on a prescription blood thinning medication such as Coumadin or have a medical condition that requires you to take aspirin, please consult your physician prior to scheduling this exam.

What should I expect after the ultrasound guided breast biopsy?

A bandage and ice are applied to the biopsy site after the procedure. The area may bruise and feel a little sore; over the counter medication such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) should relieve any discomfort. We recommend you avoid exercise or any strenuous activity for 24 hours after the procedure. The team performing the biopsy will give you instructions for aftercare.

How do I get the results of the ultrasound guided breast biopsy?

The tissue samples will be sent to a pathologist after the biopsy. The pathologist will examine the tissue under a microscope and send a report to your doctor within a few days. We will work with your doctor to make sure you receive your results as soon as possible. Results will also be available on MyLifespan.

Breast MRI

What is a breast MRI?

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a non-invasive diagnostic procedure that uses a combination of large magnets and radio frequencies, instead of x-rays to produce detailed images of the breast. MRI may be done with or without an IV injection of contrast (dye) depending upon the indication for the test. MRI does not replace mammography, but may be used if additional information is considered necessary by your doctor.

What is the difference between a breast MRI and a mammography?

A breast MRI involves no radiation (x-rays). A mammography uses x-rays to examine the inside tissue of the breast.

Who qualifies for a breast MRI?

Breast MRI is indicated as a supplement to mammography screening in women at high risk for breast cancer. If you think you may be at high risk for breast cancer, speak to your provider or our nurse practitioner, as they can determine if an MRI may be indicated. Breast MRI is sometimes also used in women with recently diagnosed breast cancer as an aid to the surgeon in planning treatment.

What can a breast MRI show me?

Breast MRI with contrast injection is excellent at detecting breast cancer and can find cancers in some women that may not be detected by other methods. Breast MRI without contrast is used for evaluating silicone implants to see if they are intact or ruptured.

Are there disadvantages to a breast MRI?

Although breast MRI has a very high percentage rate of detecting breast cancer, it may also detect other breast processes that are not cancerous. This may require a follow-up exam or biopsy for further evaluation. Breast MRI also cannot detect some early types of cancer, which is why it cannot replace a mammogram. There are some patients who cannot have an MRI due to implanted devices such as a pacemaker.

Please leave any personal belongings (jewelry, glasses, etc.) at home when having an outpatient exam performed at any of our facilities to avoid misplacement.